Home Lifestyle UNC Pembroke announces 2019-20 Distinguished Speaker Series

UNC Pembroke announces 2019-20 Distinguished Speaker Series

PEMBROKE —The Distinguished Speaker Series, which brings notable celebrities and prominent lecturers to The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, is back for 2019-20 and hosted by Givens Performing Arts Center and UNCP’s Campus Engagement and Leadership.

The popular series originally ran from 2000 to 2013 and featured the likes of Spike Lee, Dick Vitale, Gabby Douglas, James Earl Jones and Henry Winkler. A record 2,600 people came to hear Maya Angelou speak in 2002.

The series returned in 2018-19 to Givens Performing Arts Center and hosted Martin Sensmeier, Wes Studi and Michael Eric Dyson.

The 2019-20 series will feature:

  • Diane Guerrero, Aug. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in GPAC
  • Cynthia Marshall hosted by Newy Scruggs, Jan. 21, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. in GPAC; and
  • Joy Harjo, March 26, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. in the UC Annex

The series is presented by the Office of Campus Engagement and Leadership at Givens Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 general admission, $5 for faculty/staff/children and free for UNCP students with a valid ID.

“The Campus Engagement and Leadership team is excited about our lineup this year. It includes three very strong women and a talented UNCP alumnus in Newy Scruggs. The series is gaining traction on campus and in the community. 

“We are so proud to be working with American Indian Studies, Department of English, Theatre and Foreign Languages, Mass Communication, School of Business and Office of Regional Initiatives to produce an amazing series” said Abdul Ghaffar, director of Campus Engagement and Leadership.

Guerrero is an actress, activist and author known for her roles as “Maritza Ramos” on the award winning, Emmy and Golden Globe nominated Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” (for which she received three Screen Actors Guild awards), as Lina in CW’s break-out hit, “Jane the Virgin,” and as Sofia a series regular on the CBS comedy “Superior Donuts.” In July 2018, Guerrero joined the cast of the D.C. Universe series “Doom Patrol” as Crazy Jane. The series debuted in 2019.

Her memoir, “In the Country We Love,” published by Henry Holt, details her life as a citizen daughter of undocumented parents, and her years-long struggle to deal with the consequences of the broken immigration system. 

Marshall is the chief executive officer of the Dallas Mavericks and will be hosted by Newy Scruggs, a seven-time Emmy winner, sports personality and UNCP alumnus. 

During her career, Marshall earned national recognition, having been recognized as one of the top 50 most powerful women in corporate America by Black Enterprise magazine. 


She held roles in operations, human resources, network engineering and planning, and regulatory/external affairs in a communications career stretching back for more than 30 years. She is the former senior vice president of human resources for AT&T. 

The fourth of six children, Cynthia grew up in Richmond, California. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, where she attained degrees in business administration and human resources management. Additionally, Cynthia has been awarded honorary doctorate degrees by Livingstone College and Bennett College. 

Marshall was the first African-American cheerleader at UC Berkeley and is now the NBA’s first female CEO. Her appearance is co-sponsored by the UNC Pembroke School of Business and Department of Mass Communication.

Harjo is the 2019 United States Poet Laureate and is a musician and activist.  

The poet laureate of the United States is appointed annually by the Librarian of Congress. Over the course of the one-year term, which lasts from September to May, the U.S. Poet Laureate presents a reading and lecture at the Library of Congress and often engages in a community-oriented poetry project with national reach. 

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1951, Harjo is a member of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation. She is the author of several books of poetry, including An American Sunrise, which is forthcoming from W. W. Norton in 2019, and Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings. She is a current chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Harjo’s event is co-sponsored by UNC Pembroke’s American Indian Studies, Department of English, Theatre and Foreign Languages and the Office for Regional Initiatives.

“The series has already generated significant buzz around campus and in the community. We cannot wait to get started with the dynamic Diane Guerrero August 26,” continued Ghaffar.

Visit uncp.edu/DSS for additional information and to purchase tickets.