2019-2020 Bryan Series speakers announced

The Bryan Series team is preparing for the 2019-2020 speaker series season and has announced the lineup of five speakers that are scheduled to speak in the upcoming season.

The announcement was made by Associate VP for Alumni and Constituent Relations Ty Buckner at the end of the last Bryan Series event with Chief Strategist and Co-Founder of Partners in Health Paul Farmer, who is working as an anthropologist and physician. Informational pamphlets detailing the next season’s lineup was distributed by the Bryan Series team to those in attendance at the Farmer talk on Tuesday, Feb. 19.

The pamphlet announced that the lineup would consist of a first lady, a supreme court justice, and Academy Award winner and two Pulizer Prize-winning authors.

“Each one brings an important message from their life and work,” the pamphlet read. “Hearing from them firsthand, with the community members who have joined you, is a powerful experience.”

The series will kick off the new season with Laura Bush, who was First Lady of the United States from 2001 to 2009. Bush is scheduled to speak at the Greensboro Coliseum on Sept. 10.

“That will be a moderated conversation, so we may bring in someone who was familiar with her career while she was a First Lady and the different things that she brought,” said Director of the Bryan Series Suzanne Ingram.

After Bush comes Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer who is known as a consensus seeker and an optimist. Breyer will be speaking on Oct. 2 about his personal experiences, delving into “how both political leaders and everyday citizens can aim to reach across the aisle.”

Presidential Historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin will follow, speaking on Nov. 12. Goodwin will provide insight on making sense of political experiences, offering thoughts on how one may create and maintain “a well-informed foundation for everyday political conversations.”

Two-time Academy Award winner and author of the New York Times Notable Book of the Year, “In Pieces,” Sally Field is scheduled to speak after Goodwin on Mar. 24.

Finally, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award Winner and author of “The Underground Railroad” Colson Whitehead will close the 2019-2020 season on April 23.

Ingram explained the process of selecting speakers and how it is primarily driven by the interests of the Series’ subscribers along with faculty and students at Guilford.

“(Goodwin) was number one in our Brian Series survey,” Ingram said. “Every one of these speakers were on our survey. The first three (Bush, Breyer and Goodwin) were in the top 10. I think Sally Fields was in there in the top 15. Colson Whitehead, I don’t think he was chosen as prominently just because he wasn’t as widely known.”

With the next season, Ingram and the rest of the Bryan Series team are seeking to increase the impact and reach of the series. Bryan Series Intern Senior Chris Collins detailed the significance and purpose of the Q&A events that will continue to precede each Bryan Series talk.

“Part of what the speakers do when they come talk in Greensboro is they spend about an hour with Guilford students and faculty before events, so I think that’s a really cool and unique opportunity that students have,” Collins said. “Unfortunately, we can’t really advertise that to everyone all over the place because it’s supposed to be a more conversational setting for students who are really interested in talking with the speaker. So we try to advertise to focus groups …

“That’s one of the main things that students can really benefit from the Series, having almost a one-on-one conversation during the Q&A sessions we’ve done.”

Ingram detailed how the Edge calendar changes would potentially impact the series.

“We will have some tickets for the main event, but we also have opportunities for smaller groups for each event,” Ingram said. “Some of them will be on-campus and some will be off-campus, but we will have opportunities for each one.

“Because of Guilford’s schedule change next year, two of the speakers will come during the three-week semester. The first one will be during a three-week semester and the last one will be during a three-week semester. This will be interesting in how that works with everybody’s schedule, but getting the schedule to faculty ahead of time will help them see how they could incorporate that into their curriculum.”

The Bryan Series team is also looking forward to the new venue located in downtown Greensboro for the speaker series that the talks will be transitioning to in the 2020 half of the season. Ingram discussed this change.

“We will have the first three events in Greensboro at the Coliseum,” Ingram said. “And in the Spring of 2020, the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts will be opening so we are hoping to have both of our events in the spring there … It’s just more suited for lectures. It’s kind of a theater style.”

Senior Alex Jones commented on the released lineup and believes that the scheduled speakers will bring unique perspectives to the Guilford community.

“I think that these speakers will cover a lot of good topics, especially around stuff like politics because we have several speakers about that,” Jones said. “I, myself, might not go to all of them but I will definitely try to make it to as many as I can. I think that the ones I am looking forward to most are (Sally Field) and (Laura Bush).”

Collins expressed similar sentiments, touching on the lineup as a whole.

“For a small city, and for a smaller speaker series, I think generally they bring in some pretty big people who know what they are talking about and are pretty awesome,” Collins said.