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September 24, 2014

Meliora, Eastman weekends to draw thousands

Pulitzer Prize–winning presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and actress and advocate Laverne Cox will headline the 14th Meliora Weekend, Oct. 16–19. Combining alumni reunions, homecoming, and family weekends, Meliora Weekend attracts 7,000 attendees each year for four days of lectures, performances, seminars, and social gatherings.

Eastman Weekend, Oct. 17–19, will feature concerts, lectures, tours, and exhibits for Eastman School alumni and parents. Highlights include a 50th-reunion celebration for the Classes of 1963 and 1964, a 25th-anniversary celebration of the accompanying and chamber music program, and “Fennell-ebration!”—a 100th birthday presentation honoring Frederick Fennell, founder of the Eastman Wind Ensemble.

More information on Eastman Weekend is available at

Meliora Weekend highlights

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Doris Kearns Goodwin, the author of six critically acclaimed and New York Times bestselling books, will be the keynote speaker on Saturday, Oct. 18. Her biography, No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II, won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for History. The 2012 movie Lincoln was based in part on Goodwin’s book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. A frequent analyst and commentator on presidential issues, Goodwin has also written biographies of the Kennedys and Lyndon Johnson. Her latest book, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism, was published in late 2013. Goodwin earned a doctorate in history from Harvard University, where she taught government, including a course on the American presidency. She served as an assistant to President Lyndon Johnson in his last year in office and later assisted Johnson in the preparation of his memoirs. She is the winner of the Charles Frankel Prize, given by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Sarah Josepha Hale medal, and the Lincoln Prize.

Laverne Cox will speak on Saturday, Oct. 18. She currently appears in the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black, playing the role of Sophia Burset, an incarcerated African-American transgender woman. She is the first trans woman of color to have a leading role on a mainstream scripted television show. Time named Sophia Burset the fourth most influential character of 2013. Cox’s acting credits include Law and Order, Law and Order: SVU, and Bored to Death. She produced and starred in the VH1 show TRANSForm Me. A graduate of Marymount Manhattan College, she has written for The Advocate and the Huffington Post.

MEL Talks feature faculty,students, alumni

For the second year, MEL Talks will feature faculty, students, and alumni speaking on research, innovation, and artistry at the University. Talks will cover research into human longevity, the role of improvisation in our lives, bringing clean water to Africa, and the creation of a popular new musical group on campus. MEL Talks will be held Saturday, Oct. 18.

Jason Alexander, Rochester a cappella groups perform

On Friday, Oct. 17, attendees have a number of entertainment options. A limited number of tickets will be available for “An Evening with Jason Alexander” at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre on Friday, Oct. 17. Beyond his portrayal of George Costanza on the hit NBC series Seinfeld, Alexander has performed on Broadway, done stand-up comedy, acted in film, and directed. His live appearances feature comedy, music, and improvisation. He has won six Emmys, an American Television Award, two American Comedy Awards, a Tony Award, and was honored by the Actors Fund with the Julie Harris Award for Lifetime Achievement. Members of the George Eastman Circle, the University’s leadership annual giving society, will be invited to a special reception before Alexander’s performance.

On the River Campus, four of the University’s award-winning student ensembles will perform at the annual A Cappella Jam. Participating groups are the After Hours, Midnight Ramblers, Vocal Point, and the YellowJackets. The event features performances by existing group members and alumni.

Panel discussions cover higher education, privacy issues

The annual presidential symposium will focus on the future of higher education. Trustee Hugo Sonnenschein ’61, president emeritus and Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, will moderate a panel of experts including Edward Miller, CEO emeritus of Johns Hopkins Medicine and dean and vice president emeritus of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; John Sexton, president of New York University; Kent Syverud, chancellor of Syracuse University; and Nancy Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York.

Noted attorney and broadcaster Arthur Miller ’56, ’08 (Honorary) will lead “Miller’s Court,” a discussion of constitutional issues. The panel is titled “Privacy in the Age of the Internet.” Miller is former legal editor for ABC’s Good Morning America and is University Professor at the New York University School of Law. Panelists will include Linn Foster Freedman, partner and Data Protection Group chair at Nixon Peabody; Bryan Hetherington, chief legal counsel at Empire Justice Center; Henry Kautz, chair of Rochester’s Department of Computer Science; Jim Lawrence, editorial page editor of the Democrat and Chronicle; and Mark Leary, chief information security officer at Xerox.

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