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Pittsburgh Speakers Series Announces 2016-17 Season

Monday, March 14, 2016

PITTSBURGH, PA – Last night, the Pittsburgh Speakers Series presented by Robert Morris University announced the speakers for its 2016-17 season.  The series will open with Academy-award winning actress, Rita Moreno (Oct. 5) and will welcome former Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak on Oct. 26. A panel discussion on Racism in America with former NPR host Michele Norris; Wall Street Journal columnist and author, Jason Riley; and Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center will take place on Nov. 16.  Other featured speakers for the season include Monty Python co-founder, John Cleese (Jan. 25, 2017); former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey (Feb. 15, 2017); broadcast journalist, Ted Koppel (March 29, 2017); and Presidential historian, Jon Meacham (April 19, 2017).

Marking its 15th season this fall, the series offers seven evenings of diverse opinions and world perspectives on Wednesday evenings at 8 p.m. at Heinz Hall. 

 “We look forward to seven memorable evenings next season at Heinz Hall as we present yet another spectacular line-up of speakers,” said Robert Morris University President Dr. Christopher B. Howard. “These are speakers who have entertained millions, influenced global affairs, and have brought the world the biggest news stories of our generation. They continue to shape public policy, and each of them has had a tremendous impact on our culture.”

 Rita Moreno is one of only 12 actors who have won all four major awards – an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy and a Tony. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a supporting role for portraying Anita in the film adaptation of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. Recently, Moreno was presented with the Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award at the Kennedy Center Honors.

Ehud Barak was Prime Minister of Israel from 1999 to 2001. He entered politics following a 35-year career as a highly decorated officer in the Israel Defense Forces. He served as leader of the Labor Party until 2011, including posts as Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s government from 2009 to 2013.

More than 50 years after the passing of the Civil Rights Act, three distinguished panelists will explore Racism in America from their divergent perspectives. The panelists are: Michele Norris, a former host of NPR’s All Things Considered; Jason Riley, a member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board and author of Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed; and Morris Dees, co-founder and chief trial attorney of the Southern Poverty Law Center, founded in 1971. 

John Cleese, co-founded Monty Python, the comedy troupe behind the British comedy show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus and four Monty Python films. He created or appeared in a long list of movies but is probably best known for co-writing and starring in the British sitcom, Fawlty Towers, and co-starring with Kevin Kline and Jamie Lee Curtis in A Fish Called Wanda.

President Barack Obama nominated Gen. Martin Dempsey as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2011, a position he held until his retirement in 2015. He served as chief of staff of the U.S. Army before this appointment. Prior to that, Dempsey had a distinguished military career, with an assortment of commands in Europe, Iraq and the U.S.

Ted Koppel is best known as the first anchor for ABC’s Nightline, serving in that role from the program’s inception in 1980 until his retirement in 2005. After leaving Nightline he served as managing editor for the Discovery Channel. Koppel is currently a senior news analyst for NPR and a contributing analyst to BBC World News, America and NBC News.  In 2015 he published Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath that reveals that a major cyberattack on America’s power grid is not only possible but likely, that it would be devastating, and that the United States is, shockingly, unprepared.

Jon Meacham, a Pulitzer prize-winning presidential historian, has profiled Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson and, most recently, George H.W. Bush. His body of work spans from the founding fathers to the civil rights era. A former editor-in-chief of Newsweek and a contributing editor to Time magazine, he now serves as the executive editor at Random House.

Presented by Robert Morris University, the Pittsburgh Speakers Series is sponsored by KDKA News Radio (1020) and the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce. 

The Pittsburgh Speakers Series is sold by series subscription only.  Subscription prices range from $295 to $435. (Prices are for tickets to all seven lectures.)  For tickets or information, visit, or call 412.392.4900.                                                              

About Robert Morris University 

Through 60 undergraduate and 20 graduate degree programs across five academic schools, Robert Morris University (RMU) in Pittsburgh, Pa., works to change its students' lives so that they can go out and change the lives of others for the better. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate, nontraditional and online students from 47 states and 39 nations are enrolled at RMU, which sits on 230 scenic acres just 20 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh. Emphasizing experiential learning, Robert Morris focuses on professional development, service learning, global awareness, undergraduate research, campus leadership, and cultural experiences, all of which are documented on our innovative Student Engagement Transcript. More than 100 clubs and organizations help students to develop leadership skills, network professionally, and meet friends. RMU also has 16 NCAA Division I athletic programs, including football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s ice hockey, and men's and women's lacrosse.  See more at: