ESPN founder, former senator headline 2014 January Series


The founder of ESPN, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a former senator, a bestselling author, a well-educated astronomer and Calvin College’s president all have one thing in common: each will speak this year at Calvin College’s January Series.

The January Series is a lineup of lectures hosted by Calvin College. A different speaker and topic will be discussed each weekday during interim.

Kristi Potter, director of the January Series, said the series is held for several reasons.

“The idea of holding the January Series is to keep everyone on campus,” Potter said, “and for a month to intensify the deep thinking that goes on in the classrooms and to extend it out into the community.”

January Series sessions are held in the Covenant Fine Arts Center (CFAC) auditorium at 12:30 p.m., which is in between the morning and afternoon time blocks when students have class.

Some key speakers this year are Isabel Wilkerson, Olympia Snowe, Bob Goff, Michael Le Roy, Jennifer Wiseman and Bill Rasmussen.

Isabel Wilkerson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author. She will speak on the 70-year period of migration by African Americans from the South to the North and how these untold stories impacted Americans.

Every speaker was chosen in order to teach people something. Potter said she wants people to gain knowledge of American history by listening to Wilkerson.

“I hope people will understand the hidden part of American history, the importance of it in our development and how African Americans helped shape it,” Potter said.

Another key speaker is Olympia Snowe, who served for 40 years in the legislative government, most recently as a U.S. senator, before retiring. She retired because of the partisan politics in government and is now seeking to inform people about how to change the government.

“She will teach us that we do matter and can make a difference, and how we can affect our representatives and fix the government,” Potter said.

Another major speaker is ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen. He changed how people view television, said Potter, and he caused a major cultural shift in terms of entertainment. Potter wants people to learn to capture their visions and dream big like he did, and to understand that if they have entrepreneurial vision, they can succeed.

Bob Goff, the New York Times bestselling author of “Love Does,” will speak on living out faith simply and loving others.

“We chose him with students in mind,” Potter said, smiling. “His book is well-loved by students.”

Potter hopes Goff will inspire people to the “realization that when you put faith in action and just love you can do great things.”

President Le Roy will be the faculty representative at the January Series this year. Potter said that he will speak on how to approach higher education and how Calvin is going to do education, but he will most likely not address how Calvin will specifically change over the upcoming years. Potter said she hopes people will leave the presentation with a better understanding of higher education.

Jennifer Wiseman is a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University graduate who works in the field of astronomy. She will speak on how studying the stars and galaxies has strengthened her faith. Potter spoke glowingly of a Wiseman presentation she attended.

“She has great presentations and shows amazing images of the stars,” Potter said.