University Park

Speakers for 2009-10 Forum Speaker Series announced

Speakers have been announced for the 2009-10 Penn State Forum Speaker Series. The series features several luncheons, modeled after the National Press Club Speaker Series, which include a presentation by an invited speaker, followed by audience questions. The luncheons are held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Nittany Lion Inn or the Penn Stater on the University Park campus of Penn State.

Co-sponsored by the Penn State Bookstore and the offices of the Executive Vice President and Provost and the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business, the Penn State Forum Speaker Series is open to the general public. Tickets for the Penn State Forum are $15. To purchase tickets for any or all of these events, contact the ID+ Office, located at 103 HUB-Robeson Building, University Park, call (814) 865-7590, or visit online for more information.

To suggest future Penn State Forum speakers, contact Gail Hurley, chair of the forum committee, at, or coordinator Carol Griffin at

The following is a list of scheduled speakers for the 2009-10 Forum Speaker Series.

Donna Barbisch

President, Global Deterrence Alternatives LLC
“Anatomy of a Pandemic: In an Emergency, More Time is NOT an Option”
Tuesday, Sept. 15
Ballroom, Nittany Lion Inn, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Barbisch is president of Global Deterrence Alternatives, a strategic planning organization providing policy and program guidance on integrating solutions related to the national security threats of terrorism, natural disasters, and emerging infectious diseases. She is among the nation’s most distinguished experts in terrorism and disaster preparedness and response. With more than 20 years in managing complex medical and organizational challenges, Barbisch moved her focus to the complexities of combating terrorism and complex disaster management in the early 1990s. She has been described as a visionary in reducing threats and responding to complex disasters both nationally and internationally.

As a strategic planner, Barbisch focuses on developing effective programs built on evidence-based information, measurable objectives, and best outcomes in catastrophic events. Barbisch uses research-based theory and practice reinforced by modeling and simulation to drive decision support tools at all levels from individual preparedness and response to executive decision-making for today’s escalating threat environment. Her integrated training and operational modeling are designed to produce a cultural shift in preparedness. She is a leader, educator, facilitator, and proven agent for change who can build or reform organizational cultures to deal effectively with the ambiguous and unknown challenges in today’s environment.

In addition to her other civilian accomplishments, Barbisch is a retired army major general. She served in a multitude of active and reserve assignments from Vietnam to the Pentagon. Her most recent assignment was as director of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear program integration for the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Barbisch holds a bachelor's degree from California University of Pennsylvania, a master's degree in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a doctorate in health administration from the Medical University of South Carolina.

George Bodenheimer

President, ESPN Inc. and ABC Sports; co-chairman, Disney Media Networks
“ESPN at 30: The Evolution Continues”
Friday, Sept. 25
Ballroom, Nittany Lion Inn, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

An ESPN and cable industry pioneer, Bodenheimer was named ESPN’s fifth president in 1998, and since then he has led an unprecedented period of growth for ESPN. Bodenheimer’s path to leadership mirrors that of ESPN itself, with his sharp focus on creativity and cutting-edge innovation, his emphasis on always enhancing value to ESPN’s fans and business partners, and his conviction for teamwork. In 2003, he was also appointed president of ABC Sports, overseeing all the multimedia sports assets of the Walt Disney Company, and in 2004 he assumed the role of co-chairman of the Disney Media Networks, encompassing strategic planning for Disney’s media assets.

Bodenheimer’s vision has led to numerous company- and industry-leading innovations in integral sales and marketing, original programming, rights and business acquisitions, and new technologies, highlighted by ESPN’s state-of-the-art digital center. He established an organizational structure with leaders focusing on six areas: content across all media, technology, international, sales and marketing, finance and administration.

Bodenheimer joined the company after college in January 1981 as a driver in the mailroom. He rose through the ranks, becoming executive vice president of sales and marketing in 1996. He was graduated from Denison University in 1980 with a bachelor of arts degree in economics.

Benjamin Solomon Carson

“Healthcare and Healthy Lifestyle”
Tuesday, Oct. 13
President’s Hall, Penn Stater, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Carson is a full professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and he has directed pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center for nearly 25 years.

Some career highlights include the first separation of craniopagus (Siamese) twins joined at the back of the head in 1987, the first completely successful separation of type-2 vertical craniopagus twins in 1997 in South Africa, and the first successful placement of an intrauterine shunt for a hydrocephalic twin. Although he has been involved in many newsworthy operations, he feels that every case in noteworthy and deserving of maximum attention. He is interested in all aspects of pediatric neurosurgery and has a special interest in trigeminal neuralgia (severe facial pain) in adults.

His first three books, "Gifted Hands," "THINK BIG" and "The Big Picture," provide inspiration and insight for leading a successful life. His fourth book, "Take the Risk: Learning to Identify, Choose and Live With Acceptable Risk," was released in early 2008.

Barbara J. Rolls

Professor of nutrition, Penn State
“Feeling Full on Fewer Calories”
Monday, Nov. 16
President’s Hall, Penn Stater, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Rolls is professor of nutritional sciences and the Helen A. Guthrie Chair in Nutrition at Penn State. Rolls also holds positions at Penn State as professor in biobehavioral health, professor of neural and behavioral sciences in the College of Medicine, and is a faculty member in the Intercollege Graduate Program in physiology. Rolls received a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Pennsylvania and a doctorate in physiology from the University of Cambridge, England. After spending her early research career at the University of Oxford, England, Rolls joined the faculty of the John Hopkins University School of Medicine as professor of psychiatry. In 1992, she became a faculty member at Penn State, where she currently teaches and conducts research as the director of the Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behavior.

Rolls is past-president of both the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior and The Obesity Society. She has been a member of the advisory council of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). In 1995, she was the recipient of the American Society of Nutritional Sciences Award in Human Nutrition. In 1996, she received the Pauline Schmitt Russell Distinguished Research Career Award from Penn State's College of Health and Human Development. In 1997, she was the recipient of a MERIT award from the NIDDK for her outstanding research performance. She was the 2001 recipient of the International Award for Modern Nutrition. In 2003, she was awarded Honorary Membership in the American Dietetic Association. In 2006, she was elected a fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science and received the Evan G. and Helen G. Pattishall Outstanding Research Achievement Award, also from Penn State's College of Health and Human Development. She was selected as the 2007 W.O. Atwater Lecturer at Experimental Biology, sponsored by USDA’s 2007 Agricultural Research Service and the American Society for Nutrition, Washington, D.C. In 2008, Rolls received the Centrum Center for Nutrition Science Award.

She is the author of five books including "Thirst," "The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan," "Feel Full on Fewer Calories" and "The Volumetrics Eating Plan."

Anthony T. Leach

Penn State Laureate
“M.L. King Holiday -- a Choral Reflection”
Friday, Jan. 15, 2010
President’s Hall, Penn Stater, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Leach, associate professor of music and music education at Penn State, is director of the University choir "Essence of Joy" and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in choral music education. Leach holds a doctorate in music education, a master of music in conducting from Penn State and a bachelor's degree in music education from Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa.

Leach taught music in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York City for 14 years. His choirs have performed at festivals throughout the United States and Canada, and in England, France, Scotland, Italy, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Australia and South Africa. He has served as a guest-conductor for international choral events in Taiwan, the Philippines, Venezuela, France and Japan. He also served for 10 years as music consultant at the Maryland Summer Center For the Arts at Goucher College, Towson, Md.

For 23 years, Leach served as music director of the Capital Area Music Association in Harrisburg, Pa. He is a past national chair of the American Choral Directors Association Repertoire and Standards Committee on Multicultural and Ethnic Perspectives. Currently, he serves as minister of music and organist at New Bethel Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and as chair of the ACDA Eastern Division Urban Coalition.

Stephen L. Baker

Senior writer, BusinessWeek
“The Numerati: How Our Lives Will be Monitored, Measured and Managed in the Coming Age of Big Data”
Monday, Feb. 15, 2010
Ballroom, Nittany Lion Inn, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Baker, author of "The Numerati," is a senior writer at BusinessWeek, covering technology. Previously, he was a Paris correspondent. Baker joined BusinessWeek in March, 1987, as manager of the Mexico City bureau, where he was responsible for covering Mexico and Latin America. He was named Pittsburgh bureau manager in 1992. Before BusinessWeek, Baker was a reporter for the El Paso Herald-Post. Prior to that, he was chief economic reporter for The Daily Journal in Caracas, Venezuela. Baker holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He blogs at and, and can be found on Twitter at @stevebaker.

Justin Catanoso

“My Cousin the Saint: A Search for Faith, Family and Miracles”
Monday, March 15, 2010
Ballroom, Nittany Lion Inn, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Catanoso is a newspaper journalist, a university lecturer and the author of the memoir "My Cousin the Saint." He is a native of North Wildwood, N.J., and considered attending only one college after high school -- Penn State. It’s a family tradition. When he graduated from Penn State in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in journalism, he became the fourth member of his family to earn a Penn State diploma. His father, Leonard, graduated in 1943, and his older brothers, Len Jr. and Alan, graduated in 1973 and 1977.

Catanoso wrote for The Daily Collegian for four years, covering sports, arts and politics. He was a weekly columnist his senior year – the year the Collegian was named by Sigma Delta Chi as the best college newspaper in America.

Catanoso began his newspaper career with the Centre Daily Times. He later worked for The Knoxville Journal in Tennessee and then the Greensboro News & Record in North Carolina. In 1993, his pioneering reporting into fraud in the tobacco industry for the News & Record earned him a Pulitzer Prize nomination for public service. In 1998, Catanoso left daily newspapers to become the founding executive editor of The Business Journal, where he still directs a staff in its weekly business coverage of the Triad region of North Carolina.

In 1993, he received a master of arts in liberal studies from Wake Forest University, and since then has been a visiting lecturer in journalism, teaching course in reporting, writing and editing.

"My Cousin the Saint," some of which is set at Penn State, was published by HarperCollins in May 2008 and was released in paperback last June. It is Catanoso's first book.


Lisa See

“The Secrets We Keep: Finding the Lost Voice of China, Women, and Our Families”
Monday, April 5, 2010
President’s Hall, Penn Stater, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

See, author of the critically-acclaimed international bestseller "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan," published in 2005, has always been intrigued by stories that have been lost, forgotten, or deliberately covered up, whether in the past or happening right now in the world today. For "Snow Flower," she traveled to a remote area of China -- where she was told she was only the second foreigner ever to visit -- to research the secret writing invented, used, and kept a secret by women for over 1,000 years. Amy Tan called the novel “achingly beautiful, a marvel of imagination.” Others agreed, and foreign-language rights for the book were sold to 36 countries. The novel also became a New York Times bestseller, a Booksense Number One Pick, and has won numerous awards domestically and internationally.

See’s new novel once again delves into forgotten history. "Peony in Love" takes place in 17th-century China in the Yangzi River delta. It’s based on the true story of three “lovesick maidens,” who were married to the same man – one right after the other, not one reaching age 20. Together they wrote the first book of its kind to have been written and published anywhere in the world by women. (The lovesick maidens were part of a much larger phenomenon. In the 17th century, there were more women writers in China who were being published than altogether in the rest of the world at that time.) Ultimately, "Peony in Love," about the bonds of female friendship; the power of words; the desire that all women have to be heard; and finally those emotions that are so strong that they transcend time, place, and perhaps even death.

She was born in Paris but grew up in Los Angeles, spending much of her time in Chinatown. Her first book, "On Gold Mountain: The One Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family" (1995), was a national bestseller and a New York Times Notable Book. The book traces the journey of Lisa’s great-grandfather, Fong See, who overcame obstacles at every step to become the 100-year-old godfather of Los Angeles’s Chinatown and the patriarch of a sprawling family.

See recently designed a walking tour of Los Angeles Chinatown and wrote the companion guidebook for Angels Walk L.A. to celebrate the opening of the MTA’s new Chinatown metro station. She also curated the inaugural exhibition – a retrospective of artist Tyrus Wong – for the grand opening of the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles.

She serves as a Los Angeles City Commissioner on the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Monument Authority. She was honored as National Woman of the Year by the Organization of Chinese American Women in 2001 and was the recipient of the Chinese American Museum’s History Makers Award in Fall 2003.

Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo

Former president of Nigeria
"Corruption, The Greatest Single Bane of Our Society Today”
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Ballroom, Nittany Lion Inn, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Obasanjo is a general in the Nigerian Army and a politician. He is the immediate past president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and served from 1999 - 2007. He is a retired general and was Nigeria’s military head of state from 1976 - 1979.

Obasanjo was born in Abeokuta, in the state of Ogun, but he is from Ota, also in Ogun. He enlisted into the army in 1958 at 21. He trained at Aldershot and was commissioned as an officer. Although he did not directly participate in the military coup of July 29, 1975, led by Murtala Ramat Mohammed, he was named Murtala‘s deputy in the new government. When Mohammed was assassinated in an attempted coup on February 13, 1976, Obasanjo replaced him as head of state.

In the 1999 election, the first in 16 years, Obasanjo decided to run for the presidency as the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party. May 29, the day Obasanjo took office as the first elected and civilian head of state in Nigeria after 16 years of military rule, is now commemorated as Democracy Day, a public holiday in Nigeria.

Obasnjo was re-elected in 2003 in a tumultuous election that had violent ethnic and religious overtones, his main opponent (fellow former military ruler General Muhammada Buhari) being a Muslim who drew his support mainly from the north. Capturing 61.8 percent of the vote, Obasanjo defeated Buhari by more than 11 million votes.

Since leading a public campaign against corruption and implementing economic reforms in his country, he has been widely seen abroad as an African statesman championing debt relief and democratic institutions (thrice rejecting government change by coup in the continent of Africa as the chairperson of the African Union.)

Last Updated September 15, 2009