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NYSWI Offers Literary Legends

From left, Charlayne Woodard, Richard Russo, T.C. Boyle and Susan Orlean. 

ALBANY, NY (Jan. 24, 2019) – The New York State Writers Institute’s spring Visiting Writers Series kicks off today at 7:30 p.m. in Page Hall with Steven Pinker, bestselling author, renowned cognitive neuroscientist and an influential public intellectual.

Pinker’s appearance is part of UAlbany’s launch of its 175th anniversary celebration, which runs throughout 2019.

Highlights of the spring lineup include beloved bestselling authors Susan Orlean (March 1) as part of UAlbany’s series The Creative Life, Richard Russo (April 3) and T.C. Boyle (April 5).

The schedule includes a Jan. 28 panel discussion on lessons learned from Hurricane Maria that devastated Puerto Rico in fall 2017. The panel features experts from diverse fields, including UAlbany’s nationally recognized disaster preparedness experts, led by UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez, an authority on the socioeconomic impacts of natural disasters.

Charlayne Woodard, Albany’s own star of stage and screen, will present the 23rd Annual Burian Lecture on Feb. 4. Leading civil rights activist and author Rev. William Barber II will highlight UAlbany’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration with a lecture on Feb. 13. Albany native Roger McNamee, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and a mentor to Mark Zuckerberg and early investor in Facebook, will discuss on March 7 his new book, Zucked: The Education of an Unlikely Activist, which offers a sharp rebuke of the company and its founder.

The diverse range of writers includes a new star of Young Adult fiction Ibi Zoboi (Feb. 5) and Mike Reiss, writer, producer and show-runner of The Simpsons (Feb. 8). Samuel Delany, one of the most influential and innovative science fiction writers, will visit on Feb. 21 and Pamela Paul, a memoirist and editor of The New York Times Book Review, on April 9.

The Classic Film Series will offer free screenings of eight films, including Won’t You Be My Neighbor (May 3), an award-winning 2018 documentary about Fred Rogers, the beloved star of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Journalist Tom Junod, a 1980 UAlbany graduate, will offer commentary and discuss his relationship with Rogers and his 1988 Esquire magazine profile, which is the basis of an upcoming feature film starring Tom Hanks as Rogers.

The Writers Institute joins forces with the Performing Arts Center to bring “Selected Shorts” to campus on May 4. “Selected Shorts” is broadcast on more than 150 public radio stations around the country by Public Radio International and is one of the most popular podcasts on iTunes.

With the support of The University at Albany Foundation and other sponsors, the Writers Institute continues to provide its diverse programming free and open to the public.

The full spring lineup is available.

The series also brings distinguished UAlbany alumni back to campus, including Mark Nepo D.A. ’80 (March 5-6), a bestselling spiritual writer, poet and healing arts teacher. Singer-songwriter Michael Eck ’86 (April 26) joins a program titled “The Art of Songwriting” featuring Taina Asili, Greg Haymes and Bryan Thomas (“Dr. Buggy Jive”). These acclaimed singer-songwriters of the Capital Region will talk about the challenges and pleasures of their work.

“We look forward to joining our students, faculty, staff and alumni as we celebrate the 175th anniversary of the University at Albany throughout 2019,” said Paul Grondahl, director of the Writers Institute.

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