MCLA Public Policy Lecture Series


NORTH ADAMS, MA - Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) has announced that the Ruth Proud Charitable Trust will fund a Public Policy Lecture Series, making public policy forums a regular part of the College's long-term speaker offerings, in complement to MCLA's new major in political science and public policy.

On Wednesday, April 29, at 7 p.m. in the MCLA Church Street Center, David Plouffe, campaign manager of "Obama for America," will deliver the next Public Policy Lecture, "Building a Grassroots Movement in the 21st Century."

In addition, MCLA has announced that the Public Policy Lecture Series speaker for fall 2009 will be Paul Rusesabagina, the real-life hero who inspired the film, "Hotel Rwanda." He will speak on Thursday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m., in the MCLA Church Street Center.

MCLA's first public policy lecture was given by renowned journalist and author Bob Woodward in December 2008.

John DeRosa, administrator of the Ruth Proud Charitable Trust, said he wanted to bring public policy speakers to MCLA who would influence the students' thinking, so they could go on to shape society in their own ways.

"This lecture series will provide students with opportunities to connect with ideas and with people who have and are making a difference in the world," DeRosa said. "These speakers will help students to understand how policymakers change societies and to inspire them to contribute to that change."

MCLA President Mary K. Grant said the Public Policy Lecture Series is an exciting and important addition to College programming.

"We are honored that the Ruth Proud Charitable Trust will fund this series," Grant said. "As our students become global citizens, it is essential that they have opportunities to speak with and hear from those who make, and influence pivotal public policy decisions that shape their future."

According to Dr. Robert Bence, MCLA political science professor, the personal interaction between the speakers and the students that happens prior to each lecture is invaluable.

"This interaction could lead them to pursue careers they might not otherwise have considered," Bence said. "The opportunity to meet with these real-life role models who have taken the initiative to do great things impresses upon students that ideas matter and can lead to significant changes in the way the world works."

Ten years ago, Rusesabagina, a hotel manager in Rwanda, made a promise to protect the family he loved and ended up saving the lives of 1,200 people when he sheltered them from certain death. Over the course of 100 days, almost one million people were killed in Rwanda. "Hotel Rwanda" delves into Rusesabagina's personal journey while explaining the history behind Rwanda's Hutu and Tutsis tribes within the historical context of the conflict.

Rusesabagina has traveled the world with his message of hope, peace and "never again." He founded the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation (HRRF) which provides support, care, and assistance to children orphaned by, and women abused during the genocide in Rwanda.

He is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Award and the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award.

Both events are free and open to the public. Reservations are not required. Seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

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