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Presidential Lecture Series

The Presidential Lecture Series features distinguished speakers and topics related to the mission of Elmira College as well as the global society in the fields of science, health care, religion, education, media, technology, politics, business, culture, and the arts. The series aims to cultivate academic discourse outside of the classroom and foster a sense of community dedicated to academic excellence and social responsibility.

Events at Elmira College are free and open to the public. Mark Twain Tonight! requires the purchase of tickets. Elmira College faculty, staff and students may purchase tickets in person at the EC Box Office in the Gibson Lobby or by calling 607-735-1853. The general public may purchase tickets directly through the Clemens Center. See ticketing information below.

Dr. HorwitzTB in the 21st Century: Modern Science Combats an Ancient Scourge
Thursday, October 9, 2014, 6:00 p.m.
Gibson Theatre, Elmira College
A review of the current global epidemiology of tuberculosis featuring Dr. Marcus Horwitz, Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics, UCLA School of Medicine.

Hal Holbrook in Mark Twain Tonight!
Sunday, October 19, 2014, 7:00 p.m.
Clemens Center – Downtown Elmira
One of the most acclaimed and enduring performances in the history of theatre featuring Tony
and Emmy award-winning actor Hal Holbrook.

Tickets: $45/$35/$25
Please note: Convenience and Facility Fees apply
General Public On Sale Date: Thursday, September 18th
607-734-8191 or 800-724-0159
Hours: Monday–Friday, 11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
(Orders taken at the Clemens Center by Window/Phone/Door/Internet)
Mark Twain Tonight! is presented in partnership with the Clemens Center.

Dr. Susan J. DouglasEmbedded Feminism and Enlightened Sexism in the Media and Politics
Tuesday, February 3, 2015, 6:00 p.m.
Peterson Chapel, Elmira College
An analysis of the “equal” life of women in media and politics with Dr. Susan Douglas ’72,
L.H.D. ’13, feminist, academic, columnist, and cultural critic on gender issues, media criticism,
and American politics.

The Art of Leadership
Wednesday, March 11, 2015, 11:30 a.m.
Gibson Theatre, Elmira College
Henry Dormann, Honorary Trustee, Elmira College, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of LEADERS Magazine, and Amo Houghton LL.D. ’82, former Congressman and former Chairman and CEO of Corning Glass Works (now Corning Incorporated), discuss leadership through the lens of business and politics.

Klaudia Kovacs

Torn from the Flag
Wednesday, March 18, 2015, 5:00 p.m.
Gibson Theatre, Elmira College
Hungarian director Klaudia Kovács presents a screening and discussion of her multi-awardwinning
documentary Torn from the Flag, a 2007 film about the international decline of
communism and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. The film encompasses the tense Cold War
era and presents the rivalry of the superpowers during that time. The film has been hailed as
the ‘most successful documentary in Hungarian film history.’

Presidential Lecture Series - Extended Biographies

Dr. Marcus Horwitz

Dr. Horwitz is Professor of Medicine and Microbiology, Immunology, & Molecular Genetics. He received his M.D. degree from Columbia U. College of Physicians and Surgeons and subsequently trained in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He served for two years as an Epidemic Intelligence Officer at the CDC and then trained in cellular physiology and immunology at The Rockefeller University. From 1980-85, he was on the faculty of The Rockefeller University as an Assistant Professor and Associate Physician. In 1985, he joined the faculty of UCLA as Professor of Medicine and of Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics and as Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, a position he held until 1992. Dr. Horwitz is a fellow in the Infectious Diseases Society of America and a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation. His awards include the Squibb Award from the Infectious Diseases Society of America and election to Fellowship in the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His research has focused on intracellular parasitism, especially the immunobiology of the etiologic agents of Legionnaires' disease, leprosy, tuberculosis, and tularemia.

Hal Holbrook

When the calendar turned to 2014 it laid down a milestone for the longest running show in American Theatre history – the 60th year for Mark Twain Tonight! Clive Barnes of the New York Times reviewed Hal Holbrook’s third New York engagement in 1977: “Hilariously funny. We see him not as the precursor of Will Rogers or even H. L. Mencken, but clearly as a prototypal Lenny Bruce, so anti-establishment you wonder why they allowed him into his century.” Holbrook has shown us Mark Twain the social critic, whom George Bernard Shaw called “America’s Voltaire.”

The show never stops evolving. In its 60th year, three new numbers are adding another hour to its revolving repertoire of material: one on the Christian Bible, another from the feuding clans in Huckleberry Finn killing each other off, and another on the fate of the laboring class in America. “Mark Twain never stops surprising me,” says Holbrook. “He’s kept me fired up and asking questions most of my 89 years.”

It was a fateful decision for Holbrook when he sat at his desk in a small $79 a month New York apartment in 1954 and began searching Twain’s writings for material that might work on the stage. One key decision he made: portray Mark Twain as the aging character the world knows – a wild white head of hair, beetle brows and moustache, the white suit, and never break the illusion that it is Twain himself speaking in his own time. The audience will update him. That has made the show more powerful because human behavior doesn’t change. Neither does its foolishness. That’s the joke.

This total disguise of himself, which took as much as four hours when he was younger, has given Holbrook the benefit of another career as himself in motion pictures like Magnum Force, Wall Street, Creepshow, Water for Elephants, Lincoln and Into the Wild for which he received an Academy Award nomination. Television films and series earned him five Emmy Awards, a total of twelve nominations. With ninety-eight stage plays in New York and regional theatres around the country, he has been known to say “I’ve been on the road most of my life.”

He is not a Hollywood actor or a New York actor. He’s as much an American actor as any in our theatre’s history because he has never stopped touring America coast to coast in 66 years since graduating college in Ohio and setting out for Texas on the school assembly circuit with Ruby Holbrook, his first wife. The solo Twain was originally created in a Greenwich Village nightclub, where Ed Sullivan saw him and first gave him national television exposure. Three years later an unheralded 34-year old actor debuted Mark Twain Tonight! just off Broadway to critics who had no idea what to expect. The New York Times: “There should have been posters up all over town to herald his arrival. Mr. Holbrook’s material is uproarious, his ability to hold an audience by acting is brilliant.” It was called “one of the treasures of the American Theatre” by Life Magazine. Seven years later he played New York again, won the Tony Award and Mark Twain Tonight! was seen on CBS Television before 30 million people.

Dr. Susan Douglas

Susan J. Douglas is a professor of communications at the University of Michigan and an In These Times columnist. Her latest book is Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message That Feminism's Work is Done (Henry Holt and Company, 2010).

Senior Editor Susan Douglas’ column “Back Talk” appears in each issue of In These Times. She writes frequently on gender issues, media criticism and national politics.
Douglas is the Catherine Neafie Kellogg Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Michigan and is also chair of the department. She is author of The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How it Undermines Women (with Meredith Michaels, The Free Press, 2004); Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination (Times Books, 1999), which won the Hacker Prize in 2000 for the best popular book about technology and culture; Where The Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media (Times Books, 1994; Penguin, 1995) and Inventing American Broadcasting, 1899-1922 (Johns Hopkins, 1987).

Where the Girls Are was widely praised, and was chosen as one of the top ten books of 1994 by National Public Radio, Entertainment Weekly and The McLaughlin Group.
Douglas lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with her husband and daughter. She received her B.A. from Elmira College (Phi Beta Kappa) and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Brown University. She has lectured at colleges and universities around the country, and written for The Nation, The Village Voice, Ms., the Washington Post and TV Guide, and was the media critic for The Progressive from 1992-1998.

Douglas has appeared on the “Today Show,” the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Working Woman,” CNBC’s “Equal Time,” NPR’s “Fresh Air,” “Weekend Edition,” “The Diane Rehm Show,” “Talk of the Nation,” and various radio talk shows around the country.

Susan was the featured Phi Beta Kappa Speaker at Elmira College in February 2011. She received the Distinguished Achievement Award in 2012 and received an honorary degree in June of 2013.

Henry Dormann

Founder, Chairman, and Editor-In-Chief of LEADERS Magazine, Henry Dormann has come to know many prominent governmental, business, labor, art, and educational leaders throughout the world. He offers a unique and positive view of the world and humanity. He was founder and the first executive director of the Library of Presidential Papers. He has served as president of the United States Technical Developments Company, a division of U.S. Banknote Corporation; chairman of the board of the National Enquirer, largest circulated newspaper in the United States; president and editor-in-chief of SIPA News Service; president and editor-in-chief of Holiday magazine; chairman of the Haitian Development Corporation; chairman of Sabador, Inc., Liberia; and chairman of the New York Assembly Council on Economic Development.

His television appearances include hosting NBC’s Friends and Neighbors as well as prior to the Today Show, providing his “thought of the day”. Mr. Dormann currently resides in Bath, NY.

Amory Houghton, Jr.

Amory “Amo” Houghton, Jr. is a member of the prominent Houghton family and was the Chairman and CEO of Corning, Incorporated from 1964 to 1983. He later was elected to the United State House of Representatives for New York’s 29th District and served for nine terms. As a congressman, he built a reputation of being moderate and a bridge-builder between both parties. His great-great grandfather, Amory Houghton, Sr., founded Corning Glass Works (now, Corning Incorporated) in 1851.

Klaudia Kovacs

Multi-award-winning Director, Klaudia Kovács, is the creator of the most successful documentary in Hungarian film history*.

She is a distant relative of multi-award-winning actor, Zoltan Latinovits. Kovács started her career as an actor at the Harlekin Children’s Theater in Budapest and continued at Pinceszínház (Cellar Theater) in Hungary. Kovács then moved to Hollywood, California where she studied with Oscar-nominated actress Lynn Redgrave and worked on 40 theater, film, and television projects in Los Angeles and New York, which included I Spy, a film with Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson.

Klaudia Kovács' most well-known work as a director is the eight-time-award-winning, sociopolitical, historical documentary titled Torn from the Flag(Hungarian title: A lyukas zászló). The film is about the Cold War (1945–1991) and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight. Torn from the Flag shows the 1956 Hungarian Revolution as a turning point for the advancement of democracy. Klaudia Kovács made her film with Oscar-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond and multi-award-winning cinematographer Laszlo Kovács. In addition to other interviewees, the following political notables appear in person or in archive footage: Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger, Otto von Habsburg, and George Vassiliou. To date, Torn from the Flag has been invited to 20 festivals, and it also participated in the 2009 Oscar competition in the “Best Documentary” category. According to several film critics (Stephen Farber, The Hollywood Reporter) and historians (István Deak, Columbia University), Torn from the Flag is "the best documentary ever made" about this topic.

Klaudia Kovács also worked on the multi-award-winning, feature-length film, Panic Nation. The movie examines state sponsored immigration laws vs. federal immigration laws. It features former White House cabinet member Henry Cisneros, two-time Harvard graduate and syndicated CNN columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr., multi-award-winning writer of Sesame Street Luis Santeiro, and multi-award-winning actor Esai Morales. 

In 2013, in New York's Broadway District (at Theater Row), Klaudia Kovács directed the one-woman show, CALLING AMERICA: DON'T HANG UP!!

As a writer, Klaudia Kovács is the author of close to 200 articles and a co-author of two Hungarian language books:Hungarian America (2002) and Portrait Gallery of Hungarian Americans (2003). The latter was ordered by 400 Hungarian language libraries around the globe.

*By the Motion Picture Public Foundation of Hungary, Hungarian Filmunio.