Sandra Day O’Connor, Frank McCourt highlight 2006-07 speakers

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Frank McCourt are among the speakers who will visit the Elon University campus in 2006-07. Details...

O’Connor will dedicate the Elon University School of Law and deliver the address at Fall Convocation on Sept. 19, while McCourt will deliver the Baird Pulitzer Prize Lecture Feb. 13.

Other speakers radio personality Bob Edwards, former host of NPR’s “Morning Edition,” March 6; Bill George, professor of management practice at Harvard Business School and former chairman and CEO of Medtronic, Inc., who will be the Isabella Cannon Distinguished Visiting Professor of Leadership and give a public lecture March 12; William Parsons, deputy director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, who will deliver a Voices of Discovery lecture Nov. 6; Tracy Kidder, author of “Mountains Beyond Mountains,” Elon’s common reading, who will speak Sept. 26; and Barbara Maskela, South African ambassador the the United States, who will deliver the Sigma Tau Delta lecture Oct. 23.

O’Connor retired in February after 24 years on the U.S. Supreme Court. During her distinguished career, O’Connor served as a partner in her own law firm, as a lawyer for local, state and federal governments, as a state trial and appellate court judge, a state legislator and a committed civic and political volunteer and leader.

O’Connor served on the Arizona Court of Appeals and as a superior court judge in Maricopa County, Ariz., before her nomination to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1981. She served as a state senator in the Arizona legislature from 1969 to 1975 and was the first woman to serve as majority leader of a state Senate. She also served as assistant attorney general of Arizona and in private law practice in Phoenix.

McCourt taught in New York City public schools for 27 years before launching his writing career. After retiring from teaching, McCourt and his brother performed a two-man show about their Irish youth. In 1999, McCourt published “Angela’s Ashes,” a highly acclaimed memoir that incorporated stories from his childhood. The book soon moved to the top of the bestseller lists, winning the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Award. His latest book, “Teacher Man,” published in 2005, recounts tales from his years as teacher.

Edwards served as host of National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” from 1979 to 2004. He now hosts “The Bob Edwards Show” on XM satellite radio. Edwards is the recipient of two Gabriel Awards, the 1984 Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for outstanding contributions to public radio, and the prestigious 1999 George Foster Peabody Award for his hosting duties on “Morning Edition.”

George has been an advocate for responsible and ethical leadership in business. Published in 2004, his book “Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value” provides examples of leadership challenges drawn from his experience as chief executive officer of Medtronic, Inc., from 1991 to 2001. His articles during the 2002 corporate governance crisis were published in Harvard Business Review, Corporate Boards and Corporate Director magazines. He urges business leaders to develop an ethic of integrity, service and caring.

Parsons is deputy director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) John F. Kennedy Space Center and plays a major role in determining and executing missions at the center. He was appointed as space shuttle program manager in 2003 and has contributed significantly to NASA’s return-to-flight philosophy in the wake of the Columbia disaster.

Kidder is the author of Elon’s common reading for 2006-07, “Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure The World.” Kidder’s book details Farmer’s work serving some of the world’s poorest people and raising standards for medicine. Kidder has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Robert F. Kennedy Award among other literary prizes.

After teaching English at Staten Island Community College and Rutgers University, Maskela founded the African National Congress Office of Arts and Culture. She served as South African ambassador to France before being named to her current post in 2003.