The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Great Lives Lectures: learn about the lives of interesting people

3 min read


Staff Writer

The University of Mary Washington has provided an interesting and informative lecture series to students since 2004. The Great Lives Lecture Series documents the inspirational and unique stories of a variety of significant people. These lectures, open to the public, are given by a collection of highly informed and respected authors, professors, historians and independent scholars from across the nation. Dr. William Crawley, director of the Great Lives Series, sees this series as the “primary connection between the university and the community” of Fredericksburg. Great Lives is an amazing resource for UMW students to broaden their horizons with engaging talks about inspirational individuals.

The Great Lives series includes 12 lecture topics set throughout January to April. A notable lecture, which took place on February 13, dove deep into the daring lives of the Tuskegee Airmen who served during World War II and were beacons for advancing civil rights in the country. The speaker for this lecture was Todd Moye, author of “Freedom Flyers,” a biography about the Tuskegee Airmen and the struggles they faced on the battlefield and the home front.

Great Lives, according to Dr. Crawley, is the only program in the U.S. that “brings in foremost biographers from around the country (and beyond) to present lectures,” that are completely free to the public. Dr. Crawley prides himself on the ability to seek out influential speakers whose expertise lies in a “great diversity of topics across many disciplines.”

In March, a lecture featuring fashion icon, Coco Chanel, will be given by Rhonda Garelick, author of “Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History.” Garelick will be telling the story of Coco Chanel, from her childhood in a French orphanage to her trailblazing status in the fashion world. This lecture is also a celebration of Women’s History Month at Mary Washington.

Another story featured in the Great Lives lecture series is that of Warren Buffett. On April 10, students can learn about the life of the American entrepreneur who grabbed the world’s attention with his inspirational successes. Alice Schroeder, author of “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life,” is a Wall Street analyst and personally knows Buffett. This lecture will examine his life’s trials and tribulations, as well as his admirable work ethic and subsequent success.

This amazing resource has typically gone unrecognized by students, unless otherwise assigned as part of class credit. Dr. Crawley notes that “most students probably don’t appreciate how special this opportunity is.” The majority of audiences typically consist of locals that are retired or specifically interested in the topic. The lack of representation of the student body is often noticed by program organizers, speakers and the audience. Dr. Crawley emphasizes that this program offers students the “opportunity to hear nationally and internationally prominent authorities on a wide variety of subjects.” It is a seriously under appreciated resource.

Each Great Lives Lecture takes place in Dodd Auditorium, inside George Washington Hall from 7:30 p.m.- 9 p.m. Whether you’re just looking for something to do or you’re interested in the topics, check out the Great Lives Lecture Series.

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