Edward Shapiro Distinguished Lecture

The Edward Shapiro Distinguished Lecture Series is a free, public annual event known for its outstanding speakers. The lecture is named in memory of Dr. Edward Shapiro, a UT alumnus and economics professor for 22 years in the College of Arts and Sciences. He retired in 1989 and left an endowment so the University could bring world-renowned speakers to Toledo. He donated more than $4 million to the college during his lifetime.

“Dr. Shapiro believed that bringing a speaker who possessed a good deal of public recognition as well as intellectual gravitas was a great way to bring the University and the city closer together,” Jon Richardson, instructor in the Jesup Scott Honors College and chair of the Shapiro Selection Committee said. “We have had great success. The Shapiro Lecture is one of the most important intellectual events during the school year.”

See below for some of the past Edward Shapiro Distinguished Lecture speakers, including Audra McDonald, Andrew Young and Dr. Michael Sandel. 


  Shapiro lecture and Arts and Letters logos

PAST Speakers 

Audra McDonald
Sunday, November 5, 2017


Broadway star Audra McDonald was the 2017 Edward Shapiro Distinguished Lecture speaker. 

McDonald is the winner of a record-breaking six Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards, and an Emmy Award. She was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2015, and received a 2015 National Medal of Arts – America’s highest honor for achievement in the arts – from President Barack Obama.

Blessed with a luminous soprano and an incomparable gift for dramatic truth-telling, she is as much at home on Broadway and opera stages as she is in roles on film and television. In addition to her theatrical work, she maintains a major career as a concert and recording artist, regularly appearing on the great stages of the world.

Andrew Young
Thursday, September 29, 2016

Andrew YoungAndrew Young, the first African American to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, spoke at The University of Toledo Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016.

As former member of Congress and mayor of Atlanta, Young worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement to organize desegregation efforts throughout the South, including the 1963 march through Birmingham, Ala. Young was with King in Memphis, Tenn., when King was assassinated in 1968.

Young served as U.N. ambassador from 1977 to 1979. He is the recipient of the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, France's Legion of Honor and the NAACP's Springarn Medal. He founded the Andrew Young Foundation to support and promote education, health, leadership and human rights in the U.S., Africa and the Caribbean.

Dr. Michael Sandel
Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dr. Michael SandelDr. Michael Sandel, a Harvard University professor and best-selling author, spoke at The University of Toledo Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, in the Nitschke Hall Auditorium.

For 30 years, Sandel has taught at Harvard University, where he serves as the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government. The political philosopher's book, Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?, is a New York Times bestseller that has sold more than 2 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 27 different languages.

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) have both included Sandel’s lectures on television series, and he hosts a radio series on BBC, “The Public Philosopher,” that lets the audience debate about philosophical questions related to current event. Additionally, Sandel has appeared on "The Colbert Report," "Today Show," "Morning Joe" and "Charlie Rose."

E.J. Dionne Jr.
Thursday, April 4, 2013

E.J. Dionne, Jr.E.J. Dionne Jr., a political pundit and columnist for The Washington Post, discussed his latest book at The University of Toledo Thursday, April 4, 2013, in the Student Union Auditorium. 

Published last year, Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent explains why U.S. politics are so rough-edged right now, according to Jon Richardson, instructor in the Jesup Scott Honors College and chair of the Shapiro Selection Committee.

“Dionne’s book examines two deep currents in the American ethos: a strong sense of community on the one hand, and rugged individualism on the other,” Richardson said. “These ideas sometimes work well together and sometimes seem to be at loggerheads.”

For 14 years, Dionne covered state and local government as well as national politics for The New York Times. In 1990, Dionne joined The Washington Post and reported on national politics. Three years later, he started writing his column, which was syndicated in 1996. 

Dionne is also a University Professor at Georgetown University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Wynton Marsalis
Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wynton MarsalisWynton Marsalis, an accomplished jazz trumpeter, composer, bandleader, educator and Pulitzer Prize winner, spoke at The University of Toledo Wednesday, Sept. 21, in the Student Union Auditorium.

The internationally acclaimed musician has produced more than 70 records that have sold more than seven million copies worldwide. In 1997, the nine-time Grammy Award winner was the first jazz musician to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Music with his epic oratorio Blood on the Fields.

Among Marsalis’ prestigious accolades is the installation of Jazz at Lincoln Center, which is considered equal in stature with the New York Philharmonic or the New York City Ballet, and the opening of the world’s first jazz institution, the Frederick P. Rose Hall, in 2004.

A humanitarian, Marsalis volunteers his time feeding the less fortunate and working with shelters for battered youth and women. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Marsalis organized the Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Concert, which raised more than $3 million in relief funds for musicians and cultural organizations impacted by the storm.

Marsalis is a George F. Peabody Award winner, the most prestigious distinction for broadcast journalism, which he received in 1995 for his radio and television series “Wynton Marsalis: Making the Music” and “Marsalis on Music.”

Jon Meacham
Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jon MeachamJon Meacham, a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and editor of Newsweek magazine, spoke at The University of Toledo Thursday, Sept. 24, in a full Student Union Auditorium.

“I believe the liberal arts offer a kind of redemption from the sins and omissions of the past,” Meacham said. “It offers us a way of knowing and thinking so that perhaps we can right the wrongs and leave the world a little better place than we found it.”

Meacham wrote the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography American Lion about former President Andrew Jackson.

"The story of a man who was born a man and becomes a monument is more meaningful and instructive than the story of a man who was born a monument," Meacham said.

Because a liberal arts education is the way individuals learn which mistakes, sins and omissions to correct, Meacham said, it's important to spread the ability to obtain such opportunities as far and as wide as possible.

Toni Morrison
Friday, April 24, 2009

Toni MorrisonToni Morrison, the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize in literature, spoke at The University of Toledo on Friday, April 24, 2009, in Savage Arena.

Jon Richardson, chairman of the Edward Shapiro Lecture Series Committee and a part-time instructor in the Honors Program, said Morrison's lecture would make Edward Shapiro proud.

Richardson said the lecture was the direct result of a letter-writing campaign from students at the Toledo Public School's Stewart Academy for Girls and endeavors undertaken by the Edward Shapiro Foundation at UT.

"This is the perfect fusion of Edward Shapiro's vision [of collaboration between the city of Toledo and UT]," Richardson said.

Last Updated: 12/1/17