Two-time Pulitzer Prize recipient and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof will help Providence College launch its centennial celebration on Wednesday, Aug. 31, as the keynote speaker during Academic Convocation.
Kristof is one of more than a half-dozen featured speakers – including a PC alumnus – who will come to campus this fall as the College celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding in 1917. The list includes Pulitzer, Grammy, Emmy, and Academy award recipients or nominees, as well as best-selling authors and leading national and international experts in art, religion, diversity, and more.
Kristof’s address will highlight convocation, the traditional opening of the academic year and – for this year – the official launch of the College’s centennial. The ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. in the Peterson Recreation. It will be followed by a reception and a question-and-answer session and book signing with Kristof.
Earlier in the day, in honor of the centennial, there will be a series of four faculty-led discussion panels that will precede the Centennial Opening Mass at 11 a.m. in Peterson.
A New York Times columnist since 2001, Kristof writes primarily on human rights, women’s rights, health, and global affairs. In 1990, Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the pro-democracy student movement in China’s Tiananmen Square. He earned a second Pulitzer in 2006 for his columns on the genocide in Darfur.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard College, Kristof has traveled to more than 150 countries and been called the “moral conscience” of journalists of his generation. He has co-authored several best-selling books with his wife, including Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia (Vintage, 2001), Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (Knopf, 2009), and A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity (Knopf, 2014).
Kristof’s selection as convocation speaker to kick off the centennial year reflects an overriding objective of the 24-member Centennial Planning Committee, said co-chair Ann Manchester-Molak ’75, assistant to the president and executive vice president in the Office of the President. In looking at speakers and performers for the yearlong celebration, the committee was guided by the core values of the College’s Strategic Plan, she said.
Manchester-Molak also said the committee leveraged its decisions based on the diversity of programming and the presenters who have visited PC in recent years.
“As we prepare to celebrate our 100th birthday, it is imperative that we consider our past, current, and future successes through a variety of lenses. That was important to the committee, which was quite intentional in its selection process,” said Manchester-Molak, who is assisted as committee co-chair by Rev. Kenneth Sicard, O.P. ’78 & ‘82G, College executive vice president and treasurer.
She emphasized that the committee was supported in lining up high-profile presenters by members of the faculty whose passion and ability to convey PC’s story impressed them.
“We’ve come of age,” she said. “We’ve withstood the test of time over a century. Many colleges have closed over that time, especially in the 1970s. It’s a real testament to the drive we have here.”
In addition to Kristof, other featured centennial speakers are:
• Art historian Msgr. Timothy Verdon, the Burke Professor in Art History in Stanford University’s Florence, Italy, program, and a former consultant to the Vatican Commission for Church Cultural Heritage;
• Author, playwright, and Grammy Award recipient Dr. Clayborne Carson, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor of History at Stanford University and the director of the King Papers Project, which has produced seven volumes of Dr. King’s papers;
• Doris Kearns Goodwin, a world-renowned presidential historian and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has written six New York Times best-sellers and is a frequent media guest on national television networks and programs;
• Emmy Award-winning journalist, filmmaker, and New York Times best-selling author Mike Leonard ’70 & '00Hon., whose unique ability to tell stories led to a 32-year career at NBC-TV and most prominently, its Today show;
• Shiza Shahid, a social entrepreneur, television personality, speaker, and women’s rights advocate who hosts MSNBC’s ASPIREist show and who is co-founder of the Malala Fund with Nobel Peace Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai;
• His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York, who was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to the College of Cardinals and who is a former president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and a former rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome; and
• Rev. James St. Martin, S.J., editor-at-large of the Jesuit magazine America and the author of the Christopher Award-winning book My Life with the Saints (Loyola Press, 2006), who has written or edited more than 10 books and is a frequent commentator with national news outlets.
The centennial celebration will continue through June 2017, with multiple events scheduled each month. Several of the speaking presentations will be tied into traditional programs such as St. Dominic Weekend – headlined by Grammy Award-winning trumpet virtuoso Chris Botti – the Theological Exchange Between Catholics and Jews, Alumni & Family Weekend, and Commencement Weekend. For the list of scheduled events, visit the centennial website.