Colum McCann’s advice to aspiring writers? Write. The Hunter College creative writing MFA professor reads “A Letter to a Young Writer” and his short story “What Time Is It Where You Are” at the Writing Center. Going against the common advice to write what you know, McCann urges young writers to “write toward that which you want to know. Better still, write toward that which you don’t know.”
Arlene Alda interviewed dozens of fellow natives of her home borough for “Just Kids from the Bronx.” The Hunter graduate, clarinetist, photographer, author and wife of Alan Alda sat down with generations of Bronxites from Al Pacino to Grandmaster Melle Mel. She reminisces with us about reminiscing with them.
Former U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell, Jr. told 2015 Hunter College graduates: “We’re fortunate to be Americans.” In a rousing speech at Madison Square Garden, Mitchell urged grads to oppose any action that denies a child an education. He also instructed them to speak out against all forms of discrimination and injustice. “Never forget that in the presence of evil, silence makes you an accomplice,” Mitchell said.
Andrew J. Polsky, professor of political science at Hunter College, sits down with Mark Blyth, author of Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea, for a conversation about some of today’s most urgent economic policy questions. Calling austerity in the U.S., “a problem too big to fill,” Blyth, an economics professor at Brown University, makes a strong case for why the turn to austerity, the policy of reducing domestic wages and prices to restore competitiveness and balance the budget, hasn’t worked.
Filmmaker Ken Burns explains what drew him to the lives of Franklin, Eleanor and Theodore Roosevelt, and why their stories are so relevant today. “We found that they were so contemporary. They speak to the central questions of our time,” including notions of human rights, fairness and public service. Burns was joined by Geoffrey Ward, co-creator of the acclaimed PBS seven-part documentary, “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.”
For the generation accustomed to bi-partisan gricklock in Washington, Lyndon Baines Johnson continues to fascinate. Joseph A. Califano Jr.’s revised personal memoir, The Triumph and Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson: The White House Years, explores the Johnson style of leadership that “knew how to make Washington work.” One of the president’s closest advisers, Califano served as chief aide for domestic affairs from 1965 until 1969. He spoke recently at Hunter College’s Roosevelt House.
No extremist group has been able to maintain control over a territory and its people like ISIS — the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq. At Hunter College’s Roosevelt House, a group of experts including NPR Middle East correspondent Deborah Amos and Hunter history professor Jillian Schwedler, examine how ISIS, with its oil revenue, arms and organization, has been able to dominate these vast areas
Newsweek’s international editor and author Nicholas Wapshott discusses how Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to persuade the American people to abandon an isolationist spirit and enter World War II — dictating American foreign policy for decades to follow. His latest book, The Sphinx – Franklin Roosevelt, The Isolationists, and The Road To World War II, takes its “Sphinx” title from the nickname Roosevelt earned for his cunning rapport with the press.
Former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson and litigator David Boies were once bitter rivals, arguing against each other before the Supreme Court in Gore v. Bush. Years later, the pair formed a legal odd couple thatbrought them back to the Supreme Court, this time on the same side arguing against California’s Proposition 8, which banned same sex marriage. The rivals turned allies are co-authors of Redeeming the Dream: The Case for Marriage Equality, in which they recall their five-year struggle that culminated in a landmark decision overturning Proposition 8 in the 2013 case of Hollingsworth v. Perry. Speaking at the Roosevelt House at Hunter College, the attorneys make an emotional case for marriage equality as well as the legal one. “Marriage is between two people that love one another that want to form a lasting, stable, permanent, eternal relationship with one another who want to become part of the community,” Olson says, “who want to raise their children in a community and who want to be a part of the economy and be part of everything that America stands for.”
A lifelong advocate for health equity, Dr. Adewale Troutman, challenged the graduating class of the CUNY School of Public Health to take chances and to not be afraid of failure. “Consider both your highs and your lows to be your inspiration,” said Dr. Troutman, a professor and associate dean at the University of South Florida and past president of the American Public Health Association. In his keynote address, Dr. Troutman recalled his rough upbringing in the South Bronx and credits his decision to attend Bronx Community College and Lehman College, as the key reason he made it to out of the neighborhood, unlike many of his childhood friends. “These schools not only changed my life, they saved my life.”