alert Rectangle 9 Rectangle 9 Rectangle 9 Rectangle 9 Group 4 email out facebook fax flickr grid instagram LINK linkedin location Group 47 Group 9 Group 9 Group 47 PHONE play Group 4 " Search twitter video face_white youtube

Widener Announces 2015-16 Philadelphia Speakers Series Season


The Philadelphia Speakers Series presented by Widener University announces the lineup for its 2015-16. Marking its 12th season this fall, the series opens on Oct. 5 with former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

Following Panetta in the lineup is CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta (Oct. 26); futurist and author Michio Kaku (Nov. 30); political activist and best-selling author Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Jan. 18, 2016); long-distance swimmer and journalist Diana Nyad (Feb. 8, 2016); Mark Kelly and Gabby Giffords (March 14, 2016), commander of the Endeavor space shuttle and former Arizona Congresswoman; and Dennis Ross (April 4, 2016), a specialist in Middle East and Soviet policy who served as a diplomat under four U.S. Presidents.

“Widener University is proud to present the Philadelphia Speakers Series, an outstanding opportunity for our community to benefit from the perspectives of national and world leaders, authors, activists, historians, humanitarians and other influential individuals,” said Widener President James T. Harris, III. “We consider our speakers series an important extension of our mission and look forward to seven memorable evenings at the Kimmel Center.”

Leon Panetta served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 16 years before President Clinton selected him as director of the Office of Management and Budget in 1993, and then, in 1994, appointed him White House Chief of Staff. President Obama nominated Panetta to run the CIA in 2009. He subsequently served as Secretary of Defense from 2011 to 2013.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is the multiple Emmy Award-winning Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN. A practicing neurosurgeon, Gupta plays an integral role in CNN’s reporting
on health and medical news for American Morning, Anderson Cooper 360° and CNN documentaries, as well as anchoring the weekend medical affairs program, Sanjay Gupta, MD.

Known as a futurist and popularizer of science, Michio Kaku has written numerous books about physics and makes regular appearances on radio, television and film. He is a frequent host of TV specials for the BBC, Discovery Channel, the History Channel and the Science Channel. Kaku also hosts a weekly, syndicated, radio program called Explorations.

Named in 2005 by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is known for her views critical of radical Islam and its suppression of women. Born in Somalia, she sought political asylum in the Netherlands to avoid a forced marriage and later was elected to the Dutch Parliament. Now a U.S. citizen, Ali’s best-selling memoir is titled Infidel.

Diana Nyad came to national attention in the 1970s for swimming around Manhattan and then from the Bahamas to Florida. In 2013, at age 64, she became the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West, Fla., without the aid of a shark cage. Nyad also is a journalist who has been regularly featured on NPR and on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

Mark Kelly and Gabby Giffords will headline on March 14. A Gulf War naval aviator, Kelly became a NASA Space Shuttle pilot in 1996. In total, he flew four space missions, including commanding the final mission of the Space Shuttle Endeavor. Kelly will be joined briefly by Giffords, his wife and the former Arizona Congresswoman who was the target of an attempted assassination in 2011.

Dennis Ross has played a leading role in shaping U.S. involvement in the Middle East peace process as the point man for Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. With specialties in Soviet and Middle East policy, he has served as a diplomat under four U.S. Presidents. Ross has authored several books and is now a Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Presented by Widener University, the Philadelphia Speakers Series is sponsored by WHYY and The Haverford Trust Company. Lectures are on Monday evenings at 8 p.m. at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Speakers Series is sold by series subscription only. Subscription prices range from $265 to $515 for tickets to all seven lectures. For subscriptions or information, visit, or call 215-893-1955.

Widener University is a metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., serve some 6,000 students. Widener is proud to be a tobacco-free university. Visit the university’s website,