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The American Experience Distinguished Speaker Series

Late Pitt scholar Robert G. Hazo created the American Experience program over 50 years ago to offer Pittsburgh’s mid-to-high-level managers the opportunity to gain insight into political and economic thought with the intent of enlightening the public’s political discourse. The program’s current director is Mark Nordenberg, Chancellor Emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh, Director of the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy, and Chair of the Institute of Politics. The series is co-sponsored by the David C. Frederick Honors College and focuses on political and economic issues and has featured addresses by such internationally renowned speakers as Pat Buchanan, Paul R. Ehrlich, Bruce Babbitt, Judy Woodruff, Dick Thornburgh, Mark Nordenberg, and the late John Kenneth Galbraith. Read about past lecturers during the American Experience Lecture's history.

Bill Peduto - Pittsburgh: The Resilient City

William Peduto was elected to the office of Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh in the General Election on November 5, 2013, and took office in January of 2014.  Mayor Peduto discussed Pittsburgh's past, present, and future in terms of sustainability and resiliency and what his administration has done thus far in terms of resiliency. Read More >>

Cokie Roberts - After the Election: The Challenges for Our New President

In her more than forty years in broadcasting, Cokie Roberts has won countless awards, including three Emmys.  She has been inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame, and was cited by the American Women in Radio and Television as one of the fifty greatest women in the history of broadcasting.

On December 6 Ms. Roberts presented her thoughts on the challenges for our new President after this unique race to the White House. Read More >>

Robert Putnam - Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis

Author, Peter & Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University, and recipient of the 2012 National Humanities Medal.

America has its roots in a strong meritocratic tradition: our society was built on the fact that everyone had an equal chance to scale the ladders of success, no matter one’s family background. However, over the last 30 years, evidence shows that this tradition has been shaken, and young people from college-educated homes and high school-educated homes have diverged on many factors predicting life success. Read More >>

Marcia Coyle - The Roberts Court: The Struggle for the Constitution

Marcia is the Chief Washington Correspondent for The National Law Journal, a national weekly newspaper that covers law and litigation. A lawyer as well as a journalist, she has covered the U.S. Supreme Court for 28 years and is a regular contributor of Supreme Court analysis to PBS’ The NewsHour. She is the author of the  book, "The Roberts Court: The Struggle for the Constitution," (Simon & Schuster 2013). Read More >>

Larry J. Merlo -The Revolution at the Corner Drugstore

The U.S. health care system is experiencing unprecedented levels of change – with more coming in the next ten years than in the past fifty. How will the health care community evolve in light of all these changes ahead? As a pharmacy innovation company, CVS Health is helping consumers, employers, health plans, physicians and hospitals navigate this dynamic and complex landscape to help people on their path to better health. The company’s recent bold decision to quit selling tobacco products is just one way CVS Health is reinventing pharmacy to deliver better health outcomes, lower costs and drive systemic improvements that create real value for all stakeholders. Read More >>

Bill Strickland - The Art of Leadership

For 46 years, Bill Strickland, President and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation and its subsidiaries, has been in the business of successfully shaping―and changing―lives. At the heart of their unique interrelationship under Strickland’s Manchester Bidwell Corporation, Manchester Craftsmen's Guild and Bidwell Training Center share a dedication to helping disadvantaged individuals by offering them exceptional quality educational and cultural opportunities. Read More >>

Mark A. Nordenberg -  A Defining American Value: Education in 21st Century America. 

University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg presented, "A Defining American Value: Education in 21st Century America."  The text from this lecture was featured on the front page of the Pitt Chronicle on March 31.  The lecture was presented on March 24, 2014. Read More >>

Laurence Leemer - The Price of Justice

Bestselling author Laurence Leamer presented the riveting story of two Pittsburgh lawyers and their fifteen-year struggle against Don Blankenship, the most powerful coal baron in American history, and Massey Energy, the biggest coal company in Appalachia. It is a story of the egregious impact of massive amounts of money on an election to the Supreme Court of West Virginia, and how that led to an historic opinion in the United States Supreme Court in Caperton v. Massey. 

A panel discussion followed the presentation and was moderated by Dean William Carter, Pitt Law, and featured distinguished panelists Dean Ken Gormley, Duquesne Law School, and Professor John Burkoff, Pitt Law. This lecture was presented on January 15, 2014.

William W. Millar - How will we travel in the future? The role of transportation in building sustainable regions

Mr. Millar retired in 2012 after 15 years at the helm of the American Public Transportation Association.  For 13 years of his 40-year career, he was CEO of the Port Authority of Allegheny County.  Millar is also past chair of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies. This lecture was presented on March 19, 2013. Read More >>

Howard Fineman - Down to the Wire: The 2012 Presidential Election

Howard Fineman is editorial director of The Huffington Post Media Group, an analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, and the author of a best-selling book about politics called The Thirteen American Arguments. This lecture was presented on October 18, 2012. Read More >>

Robert D. Reischauer - This Time will Really be Different: Adapting to Fiscal Reality

Robert D. Reischauer, president of the Urban Institute, a nonprofit, non-partisan policy research and education organization that examines the social, economic and governance problems facing the nation, presented this American Experience Distinguished Lecture on December 6, 2011. Read More >>

Alfredo Corchado - Midnight in Mexico: Descent Into Darkness

Alfredo Corchado, Mexico bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News, was the March 16, 2011 featured speaker for the University of Pittsburgh American Experience Distinguished Lecture Series of the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy and the University Honors College. Read More >>

Judy Woodruff- After the 2010 Elections: Can They Govern?

Ms. Judy Woodruff, Co-Anchor and Senior Correspondent, PBS News Hour was the American Experience Distinguished guest speaker on November 15, 2010. Mr. David Shribman, Executive Editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, moderated the discussion. Read More >>