Celebration of Ideas Lecture Series Continues Nov. 29 with Byron Pitts

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Celebration of Ideas Lecture Series at Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community & Technical College brings nationally prominent speakers of diverse viewpoints to campus each fall and spring.

“It is our goal to create a campus environment where open exchange of ideas is both promoted and celebrated,” said Dr. Quentin Johnson, Senior Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services.

“We believe that the development of our student body must include exposure to a variety of ideas. Through this exposure, our students will be better prepared to operate in an increasingly complex society. We are very fortunate to be able to bring this diverse and talented group of speakers into North Central West Virginia. The 2011-2012 Celebration of Ideas Lecture Series seeks to provide a variety of perspectives as they pertain to national and global issues.”

This year’s speakers include Lee Maynard, Fairmont State alumnus Morris Morrison, Byron Pitts, Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, Michael Belmear, Liz Murray and Geraldine Brooks.

Admission is free and open to the public for all of the events in the lecture series. Tickets are not required. For more information, call the Student Affairs Office at (304) 367-4215.

Sign Language Interpreting and other accommodations for those with disabilities are available by request. Please contact Andrea Pammer, at least two weeks prior to each event in the Lecture Series, by phone at (304) 367-4686 or e-mail at Andrea.Pammer@fairmontstate.edu or Andrea.Pammer@pierpont.edu.


Byron Pitts
7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 29, 2011        
Colebank Hall Gym

Known for his thought-provoking coverage and his commitment to exceptional storytelling, Byron Pitts is a multiple Emmy award winning journalist. As Chief National Correspondent for the CBS “Evening News With Katie Couric,” Pitts was an embedded reporter covering the Iraq war and was recognized for his work under fire. Pitts was also CBS’ lead correspondent at Ground Zero immediately following the September 11th attacks and won an Emmy for his coverage. A news veteran with over 20 years of experience, other major stories include the war in Afghanistan, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the military buildup in Kuwait and the refugee crisis in Kosovo, to name but a few. Pitts realized a lifelong goal when he was named a Contributing Correspondent to CBS’ “60 Minutes” in 2009.

Pitts’ many achievements are all the more extraordinary when he tells of the many obstacles he faced as a child. Raised by a single mother in a working class neighborhood in Baltimore, Pitts was illiterate until the age of 12 and had a persistent stutter. Capitalizing on his desire to play football, his mother mandated he receive Bs or above in school in order to play. With that focus, Pitts learned to read and went on to attend Ohio Wesleyan University. With the help of his roommate and a college professor, Pitts found the support and encouragement necessary to pursue a career in broadcast journalism–a field that demands excellence in writing and speaking. By staying focused, setting simple and achievable goals and finding strength in faith, Pitts overcame his powerful odds and his disability. He graduated in 1982 with a B.A. in Journalism and Speech Communication.


Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch                      
7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, 2012
Colebank Hall Gym

Consuelo Castillo-Kickbusch will be the Friday evening keynote speaker for the Annual Student Leadership Conference.Any high school and college age students interested in attending the Annual Student Leadership Conference should contact Sue Conrad at Sue.Conrad@fairmontstate.edu or Sue.Conrad@pierpont.edu for registration information.

Castillo-Kickbusch is an inspiration to people everywhere. She comes from a financially challenged background, yet rose to become the highest-ranking Hispanic woman in the Combat Support Field in the U.S. Army. LTC Castillo-Kickbusch motivates everyone from Fortune 500 CEOs to young children with her lectures, and has now set her words in stone in a book titled “Journey to the Future,” which is a guide to success that children everywhere can utilize as a manual for life.

In 1996, Castillo-Kickbusch retired as a 20-year military veteran and founded Educational Achievement Services, Inc. (EAS) to realize her personal dream and mission of preparing tomorrow’s leaders today. Consuelo has created The Family Leadership Institute (FLI) as a branch of Educational Achievement Services, Inc. FLI is a comprehensive program dedicated to helping immigrant Hispanic families participate in their children’s education so that their young people stay in school and pursue advanced degrees.

Castillo-Kickbusch’s results-oriented seminars utilize real-life case studies, successful leadership behaviors and guiding principles through role-play to provide a dynamic and interactive learning environment. As a result, participants develop leadership skills and achieve optimum performance. She also helps them to examine the role our diverse cultures and backgrounds bring to leadership development.


Michael Belmear      
10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012      
Colebank Hall Gym

Michael Belmear will be the Saturday morning keynote speaker for the Annual Student Leadership Conference.

Belmear began his career in higher education at West Virginia University working as the stack supervisor for the downtown main campus library from 1971 to 1974. He was then hired at WVU as an admissions counselor from 1974 to 1978 and was responsible for increasing minority enrollment. During that time, both overall university enrollment and minority enrollment increased.

Michael Belmear came to Fairmont State as a Student Affairs counselor in August 1979. In this position, he served as a counselor and recruiter. His duties were later expanded to include advisor to the Student Government and Student Activities programs. For 31 years, he was director of the New Student Orientation program, and he also created and directed the annual statewide Fairmont State and Pierpont Leadership Conference. In 1993, he was appointed Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and then served as Vice President for Student Affairs for FSU and Pierpont. His responsibilities included housing, multicultural affairs, disability services, student health service, counseling, student activities and development, career services and managing the Turley Center.

During his time at Fairmont State and Pierpont, Belmear worked to get Student Government executive officers paid, created the statewide student leadership conference, expanded the New Student Orientation program, created the Fairmont State and Pierpont Celebration of Ideas Lecture Series, served as Vice President for the Governor’s Commission on the Holocaust, created the Student Affairs Hall of Fame, organized and helped create the exchange program with the University of Calabria in Italy including a Summer Exchange Camp for high school students from Italy and created the Diversity Scholars Camp for minority students.

Throughout his professional career, he was selected as the Classified Staff Employee of the Year in 1995, elected President of The WV Association of Student Personnel Administrators, received the West Virginia Association of Student Personnel Distinguished Service Award, received The City of Fairmont Arts and Humanities Commission Patron of the Arts Award and was selected as the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival 2009 Honorary Italian Man of The Year.

Belmear is a native of Fairmont and earned his B.A. degree in Public Relations and M.A. in counseling and guidance from West Virginia University. He taught undergraduate classes in Developmental Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Race, Class and Gender and Empowering Leadership. He and his wife Robin live in Morgantown and have two sons, Michael and Andrew. He enjoys golf and is an avid reader.


Liz Murray                           
7 p.m. Wednesday, March 7, 2012 
7pm Colebank Gym

Liz Murray’s life is a triumph over adversity and a stunning example of the importance of dreaming big. Murray’s life as the child of cocaine-addicted parents in the Bronx was bitterly grim. There was never food in the house, everything was filthy, drugs were everywhere and the welfare checks were spent before they arrived.

By age 15, Murray’s mom had died and she was homeless—living on the streets, riding the subway all night and eating from dumpsters. Amidst this pain, Murray always imagined her life could be much better than it was. “I started to grasp the value of the lessons learned while living on the streets. I knew, after overcoming those daily obstacles that next to nothing could hold me down,” she said. Determined to take charge of her life, Murray finished high school in just two years while camping out in New York City parks and subway stations.

Murray’s story is exhilarating and her delivery innocently honest, as she takes audiences on a very personal journey where she achieves the improbable. Lifetime Television produced a movie about Murray’s life story entitled “From Homeless to Harvard,”which premiered in April 2003.

Murray is the recipient of Oprah Winfrey’s first ever Chutzpah Award. Her memoir, “Breaking Night,” was released in September 2010 and within a week landed on The New York TimesBest-seller List. Murray received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Harvard University in June 2009.


Geraldine Brooks                             
7 p.m. Tuesday, April 3, 2012         
Colebank Hall Gym

Geraldine Brooks’ “Year of Wonders” is the selected work for the campus-wide Common Reading Project for 2011-2012.

Australian-born Geraldine Brooks is an author and journalist who grew up in the Western suburbs of Sydney and attended Bethlehem College Ashfield and the University of Sydney. She worked as a reporter for The Sydney Morning Heraldfor three years as a feature writer with a special interest in environmental issues.

In 1982 she won the Greg Shackleton Australian News Correspondents scholarship to the journalism master’s program at Columbia University in New York City. Later she worked for The Wall Street Journal, where she covered crises in the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans.

She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 2006 for her novel “March.” Her first novel, “Year of Wonders,” is an international bestseller and “People of the Book”is a New York Times bestseller translated into 20 languages. She is also the author of the nonfiction works “Nine Parts of Desire” and “Foreign Correspondence.”

Brooks married author Tony Horwitz in Tourette-sur-Loup, France, in 1984. They have two sons– Nathaniel and Bizuayehu–and two dogs. They divide their time between homes in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., and Sydney, Australia.