Elon University will devote its annual spring Convocation for Honors on April 7, 2011, to an in-depth examination of five great problems facing humanity.
Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News, will moderate a panel discussion titled "We can be better: Courageous voices confront our greatest challenges." Distinguished panelists will explore tough choices that must be made to respond to threats to our democracy, economies, public education, the environment and civil stability around the world.
"This special convocation will compel all of us to think deeply about the legacies we are creating for future generations," said Leo M. Lambert, Elon University president. "Brian Williams and our panelists will bring their unique perspectives to bear on global issues that often seem intractable. I am confident we will find inspiration in their ideas, and I'm thrilled that our community will have a rare opportunity to hold a dialogue with these dynamic leaders.
Panelists will address the following questions:
How can we move beyond partisan gridlock and find the will to solve our nation's most pressing problems?
Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN, adviser to four U.S. presidents, director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, and chair of the Elon University School of Law Advisory Board.
How can we promote fiscal responsibility by government and not mortgage our children's and grandchildren's future?
Walker is former U.S. Comptroller General and head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO); and founder, president and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative, which encourages policymakers on a non-partisan basis to help achieve solutions to America’s federal, state and local fiscal imbalances.
What investments in science and technology must we make to show economic leadership, environmental stewardship and greater energy independence?
Jackson is a physicist and president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, former chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
How can we promote reconciliation and understanding in an era of religious extremism that often fuels strife around the world?
Patel is an American Muslim of Indian heritage who is an author, journalist, member of President Barack Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships, and founder and president of the Interfaith Youth Core, which promotes religious pluralism.
What are the most effective measures we can take to improve the quality of K-12 public education in an era of declining government support and changing demographics?
Levin is co-founder of the "Knowledge is Power Program," a network of high-achieving KIPP charter schools that serves 27,000 mostly low-income minority children in 20 states and Washington, D.C.
Brian Williams is the most highly decorated network evening news anchor of the modern era. He has received eleven Edward R. Murrow Awards, 12 Emmy Awards, the duPont-Columbia University Award, the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism and the industry’s highest honor, the George Foster Peabody Award. Williams is a former NBC News Chief White House Correspondent and has traveled the world extensively. He has covered numerous nominating conventions and presidential campaigns and elections, and has moderated seven presidential debates. He is married to Jane Stoddard Williams, and together they have a daughter and son, Douglas, who is an Elon student.
Elon's Convocation for Honors serves as an annual event to recognize Dean’s List and President’s List students, the faculty, the upcoming graduating class and members of the Elon Society, the premier annual giving group at Elon. The convocation will be held at 3:30 p.m. in Alumni Gym in Koury Center. Tickets will be available beginning March 17, and are free with an Elon ID or $12 for the general public. Box Office hours in the Center for the Arts are 12:30 – 5 p.m., Monday-Friday; call 336.278.5610 for more information on tickets.