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Indiana State University Speakers Series lineup announced

August 13, 2015

Indiana State University has announced the lineup for its 2015-16 University Speakers Series.

Basketball legend Oscar Robertson will open the season Sept. 14, followed by author Hector Tobar Oct. 19, explorer and environmentalist Alexandra Cousteau Nov. 18, Paralympian Bonnie St. John Jan. 14, author, journalist and cultural historian Sarah Vowell Feb. 8 and show business legend Patty Duke on March 23.

Robertson, who attended Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis and the University of Cincinnati, played professionally for the Cincinnati Royals and Milwaukee Bucks and was voted Player of the Century by National Basketball Association coaches. He has also distinguished himself as a social activist, a labor leader, an international ambassador for the game of basketball, a business owner, a mentor and teacher and a philanthropist.

Tobar is a Los Angeles-born author and journalist who worked for the Los Angeles Times as a city reporter and a national and foreign correspondent. He was part of the reporting team that won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 1992 LA riots. His fourth book, "Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Freed Them," will be published this fall by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. His novel, "The Barbarian Nurseries," was named a New York Times Notable Book and has been translated into French, German and other languages. It won the California Book Award Gold Medal for Fiction, a distinction Tobar shares with John Steinbeck, Michael Chabon, T.C. Boyle and many other distinguished California writers.

Cousteau, a National Geographic "emerging explorer," filmmaker and globally recognized advocate on water issues, continues the work of her renowned grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau and her father Philippe Cousteau Sr. She has mastered the remarkable storytelling tradition handed down to her and has the unique ability to inspire audiences on the weighty issues of policy, politics and action. Cousteau is dedicated to advocating the importance of conservation and sustainable management of water in order to preserve a healthy planet. She seeks to inspire and empower individuals to protect not only the ocean and its inhabitants, but also the human communities that rely on freshwater resources.

St. John became the first African-American to win medals in Winter Olympic competition, taking home a silver and two bronze medals in downhill events at the 1984 Paralympics in Innsbruck, Austria. She has since achieved the highest levels of success in a variety of other endeavors. She is a best-selling author, a television and radio personality, a business owner and a Fortune 500 leadership consultant. President Bill Clinton named her a director for Human Capital Issues on the White House National Economic Council. Today, St. John travels the globe as a leadership consultant, keynote speaker and facilitator for international summit conferences for senior-level executives.

Vowell is the New York Times' bestselling author of six nonfiction books on American history and culture. By examining the connections between the American past and present, she offers personal and often humorous accounts of everything from presidents and their assassins to colonial religious fanatics, as well as thoughts on American Indians, utopian dreamers, pop music and the odd cranky cartographer. Her most recent book, "Unfamiliar Fishes" (2011), is the intriguing history of the nation's 50th state, Hawaii, annexed in 1898. Replete with a cast of beguiling and often tragic characters, including an overthrown Hawaiian queen, whalers, missionaries, sugar barons, Teddy Roosevelt and assorted con men, "Unfamiliar Fishes" is another history lesson in Americana as only Vowell can tell it - with brainy wit and droll humor. Vowell was a contributing editor for the public radio show "This American Life" from 1996-2008, where she produced numerous commentaries and documentaries and toured the country in many of the program's live shows. She has been a columnist for, Time and San Francisco Weekly and continues to write occasional essays for the opinion page of the New York Times.

Duke's career has spanned six decades, and she continues to thrive long after many of her contemporaries have retired. In 1959, she made her Broadway debut in "The Miracle Worker," the powerful story of Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan (portrayed by Anne Bancroft). The show ran for nearly two years and a 12-year-old Patty Duke won the Theatre World Award as "Most Promising Newcomer." Duke and Bancroft reprised their roles in the motion picture version, and each won Oscars. Duke then played identical cousins on the top-rated "Patty Duke Show" from 1963 to 1968. She became the second woman elected president of The Screen Actors Guild. She became a New York Times best-selling author with the publication of her autobiography, "Call Me Anna," and its follow up, "A Brilliant Madness," both which detail her harrowing childhood, rise to fame and diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. Duke, who holds two Ph.Ds, teaches drama at the University of Idaho.

All University Speakers Series programs begin at 7 p.m. in Tilson Auditorium. They are free and open to the public.

Photo: - Oscar Robertson

Photo: - Patty Duke

Media contact and writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or



Story Highlights

Basketball legend Oscar Robertson will open the season Sept. 14. Other speakers are author Hector Tobar; explorer and environmentalist Alexandra Cousteau; Paralympian Bonnie St. John; author, journalist and historian Sarah Vowell; and actress Patty Duke.

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