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Headliners for Meliora Weekend 2018 announced

May 11, 2018
Meliora Weekend graphic showing Ron Chernow, Soledad O'Brien and Michael Steele
photo of Soledad O'Brien

Soledad O’Brien

Soledad O’Brien, award-winning journalist, speaker, and author, will be the keynote speaker for Meliora Weekend. She headlines a weekend that includes Pulitzer Prize–winning author Ron Chernow, former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele, comedian Nasim Pedrad, the genre-hopping musical ensemble Pink Martini, and a variety of activities—including class reunions, homecoming events, and family fun—for alumni, students, parents, faculty, staff, and the entire Rochester community.

Meliora Weekend kicks off on Thursday, October 4, and continues through Sunday, October 7. Registration will begin at noon on Wednesday, July 25. For more information, visit, email, or call 877.MELIORA (877.635.4672). Check the website often as more talent will be announced soon.

“Over the last three years, we have redesigned Meliora Weekend to make it more fun and social while keeping true to the academic and intellectual traditions that in many ways define the University of Rochester,” says Thomas J. Farrell ’88, ’90W (MS), senior vice president for University Advancement.

Weekend Highlights

photo of Ron Chernow

Ron Chernow

University Symposium with Ron Chernow
Friday, October 5

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and writer of Alexander Hamilton, Ron Chernow, will speak on his recent biography and the New York Times best seller Grant. His biography on Alexander Hamilton inspired the Tony Award-winning musical, Hamilton, for which he served as historical consultant. Additionally, Chernow has written seven acclaimed biographies and is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. In May of 2011, he earned the Pulitzer Prize in Biography for Washington: A Life, one of the best-selling biographies of all time.

Eastman Presents: Pink Martini
Friday, October 5

Drawing inspiration from music from all over the world and crossing genres of classical, jazz and old-fashioned pop, Thomas Lauderdale founded Pink Martini in 1994 to provide more beautiful and inclusive musical soundtracks for political fundraisers for causes such as civil rights, affordable housing, the environment, libraries, public broadcasting, education, and parks. Featuring a dozen musicians, Pink Martini performs its multilingual repertoire in over 25 languages on concert stages and with symphony orchestras throughout the world.

photo of the band Pink Martini

Pink Martini

Keynote with Soledad O’Brien
Saturday, October 6

As CEO of Starfish Media Group, a multi-platform media production company, O’Brien is dedicated to telling stories about today’s most pressing social and global issues. She also anchors and produces the Hearst Television political magazine program “Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien” and reports regularly for HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” and “PBS NewsHour.”

photo of Michael Steele

Michael Steele

She has appeared as an anchor or contributor on all three major networks as well as CNN, is philanthropy editor of Worth Magazine, and is a frequent author of op-ed pieces for the New York Daily News and The Huffington Post. She is also the author of two books: her critically acclaimed memoir, The Next Big Story, and Latino in America. In 2011, O’Brien and her husband Brad Raymond created the PowHERful Foundation, which helps young women get to and through college.

A Conversation with Michael Steele
Saturday, October 6

When he was elected lieutenant governor of Maryland in 2003, Michael Steele made history as the first African American elected to statewide office. He made history again with his subsequent chairmanship of the Republican National Committee in 2009.

Currently, Steele is president and CEO of The Steele Group, cohost of the Steele & Ungar radio show, and a political commentator for MSNBC. He has been a frequent contributor on the Fox News Channel and a guest on “Meet the Press” and “Face the Nation” among other news programs. He is an author whose writings on law, business, and politics have appeared in such major media as the Wall Street Journal,, and

photo Nasim Pedrad

Nasim Pedrad

Comedy with Nasim Pedrad
Saturday, October 6

Nasim Pedrad, best known for her work on Saturday Night Live, will provide the laughs during an interactive comedy show. Joining SNL in 2009, Pedrad was a cast member for five years. Her recent television credits include appearances on the FOX series New Girl, TBS’s People of Earth, and the 2017 return of HBO’s comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm. She is now filming Disney’s live action remake of Aladdin, set to hit theaters in 2019.

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Category: University News