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Get ready to face diverse perspectives and controversial ideas from accomplished guest lecturers and panelists at this year's Hancock Symposium.

Westminster College's annual lecture series is Sept. 18-19. The two-day symposium will feature 19 experts from various fields — including a human rights activist and Nobel Laureate in chemistry, an acclaimed molecular biologist, a Kansas City lawyer and award-winning National Geographic photographer, a reality TV pioneer, a prisoner rehab drama troupe and others — in a series of engaging lectures, panel discussions and presentations.

The symposium is free and open to the public.

The final segment of the symposium — the John Findley Green Foundation Lecture — will be delivered by Madeleine Albright, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (1993-97), the 64th and first female U.S. Secretary of State (1997-2001), a 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, and a 2015 Churchill Leadership Award recipient from America's National Churchill Museum and the International Churchill Society.

The theme of this year's Symposium — "Breakthrough" — was inspired by the Breakthrough sculpture created for Westminster College by artist Edwina Sandys, Churchill's granddaughter. It consists of eight contiguous sections of the original Berlin Wall and was dedicated on campus in 1990 by former President Ronald Reagan.

This November marks the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Berlin Wall (1961-89), which physically and ideologically divided Communist East Germany and Democratic West Germany. Its opening essentially ended the Cold War against what was then the Soviet Union.

Albright's lecture will address democracy's future prospects and how humanity might once again break down the walls that divide people and countries. Albright will deliver her lecture in Champ Auditorium, adjacent to Sandys' Breakthrough sculpture and America's National Churchill Museum.

Guest speakers

Other experts delivering Symposium lectures, speeches or serving as panelists include the following:

Dr. George Smith, 2018 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia, will discuss his views on Palestine and Israel in a lecture titled "Tear Down This Wall: Freedom and Equality for All Who Share the Palestinian Homeland."

Gretchen Kinder, a "reality TV" production executive, Jefferson City native and a '94 Westminster grad, will talk about the challenges she faced and the personal breakthroughs that led to her success in the reality TV business. Her 30-plus series includes "The Apprentice," "Celebrity Apprentice," "Fear Factor," and "Project Runway."

Jeremie Loncka, who has spent much of his career working with actor-producer-director-screenwriter Tim Robbins ("Shawshank Redemption," "Bull Durham," "Dead Man Walking"), will discuss "Breaking Barriers Behind Prison Walls." Loncka now runs the Actors' Gang Prison Project, which uses drama therapy to help rehab California prison inmates. He will be joined by Major Bunton and Richard Loya, both project alums.

John Rollins, a Kansas City attorney and an award-winning travel, nature and wildlife photographer chosen as one of National Geographic's Travel Photographers of the Year in 2016, will discuss "The Artist Within" — or how to find one's inner artist — and his deep connection to the natural world through his photography.


Sept. 18

9-9:20 a.m. — Introduction by Symposium Committee Chair Dr. Carolyn Perry, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning and professor of English (Champ Auditorium)

9:20-10:15 a.m. — Plenary Session No. 1 (Champ Auditorium)

Gretchen Kinder, '94 alumna of Westminster College and reality TV executive, on the challenges she faced and her personal breakthroughs in the reality TV business (Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury)

10:30-11:30 a.m. — Executive Session No. 1

Jeremie Loncka, Major Bunton and Richard Loya, Actors' Gang Prison Project, on "Breaking Barriers Behind Prison Walls" (Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury)

Jim Bowen, CEO, First Trust Portfolios L.P., on the potential of the free market for solving the most complex problems of our time (Coulter Science Center Lecture Hall)

1:15-2:15 p.m. — Executive Session No. 2

Dr. James R. Hansen, author of "First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong," professor emeritus at Auburn University, two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee on Apollo 11's significance for Armstrong, the United States and humanity (Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury)

John Rollins, '87 Westminster graduate, "The Artist Within" (Coulter Science Center Lecture Hall)

2:30-3:30 p.m. — Breakout Session No. 1 (Coulter Science Center)

Karen Oyerly, '99 Westminster graduate, Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation, "How DNA is Revolutionizing Law Enforcement" (Room 126)

Robert Canine, U.S. Army Veteran (Iraq), PTSD survivor, board member of Welcome Home, a veterans support agency — "Unleash the Beast" (Room 305)

Bill Young, professor emeritus of Religious Studies, Westminster, "Trailblazers: How Native American and African American Players Broke Through the Color Barriers in Major League Baseball" (Room 227)

Ian Mackey, '09 Westminster graduate, MO State Representative, D-87th District, on "Where Are You From, and Why Does It Matter?" (Room 329)

Bailey Mitchell, '17 Westminster graduate, Data Science Consultant, CapTech on "Break Through the Glass Cloud: What It Means to Be a Woman in Tech" (Room 304).

Jessica Sanders, '06 Westminster graduate, Teacher, Gibbs International Magnet School (Room 306).

3:45-4:45 p.m. — Executive Session No. 3

Mia Eastman, co-founder and creative unification director, Operation Earth Guardians on "Turning Your Passion into Action" (Coulter Science Center Lecture Hall).

Beth Houf, principal of Fulton Middle School and co-author of "Lead Like a PIRATE: Make School Amazing for Your Students and Staff" on "Breaking Through Without Burning Out: Seeking Greatness in a Digital World" (Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury).

7 p.m. — Theater workshop

The Actors' Gang Prison Project (Champ Auditorium).

Science: It Takes a Village: A Conversation with Dr. George Smith and Dr. Ellen Jorgensen (Coulter Science Center Lecture Hall).

Sept. 19

9-10 a.m. — Plenary Session No. 2 (Champ Auditorium).

Dr. George Smith, "Tear Down This Wall: Freedom and Equality for All Who Share the Palestinian Homeland."

10:15-11:15 a.m. — Executive Session No. 4

Derick Dailey, '11 Westminster grad, Asst. U.S. Attorney, District of Delaware, "Theo-legal Imagination: Doing the Right Thing, the Right Way, for the Right Reasons" (Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury).

Dr. Ellen Jorgensen, molecular biologist known for her devotion to scientific literacy, co-founder and former director, Genspace, and founder of Biotech Without Borders (Coulter Science Center Lecture Hall).

1:30 p.m. — 59th annual John Findley Green Foundation Lecture (Champ Auditorium).

Dr. Madeleine K. Albright, professor of diplomacy at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, president of the Truman Scholarship Foundation, member of the Defense Department's Defense Policy Board, chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, a Washington D.C.-based consultancy firm.

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