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Distinguished Speaker Series returns

Martin Sensmeier
Martin Sensmeier

The Distinguished Speaker Series – which brought notable celebrities and prominent lecturers to The University of North Carolina at Pembroke for more than a decade – is back.

The popular series 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 2018-2019 series returns to Givens Performing Arts Center on September 27 with American Indian actor and activist Martin Sensmeier as the first speaker.

This year’s lineup also features Wes Studi, who is famous for his roles in classics such as “Dances with Wolves” and “The Last of the Mohicans.” Studi will speak on November 19.

Michael Eric Dyson, Georgetown University professor and award winning author, will speak on January 24, 2019.

Diane Guerrero

Actress Diane Guerrero, best known for her roles on the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” and “Superior Donuts” on CBS, will wrap up the series on April 16, 2019.

Each presentation will begin at 7:30 p.m. at GPAC. Admission is free for UNCP students with valid ID, $5 for faculty and staff, and $10 for the public.

Tickets will go on sale Aug. 31 and can be purchased at or by calling the GPAC Box Office at 910.521.6361.

 “We are thrilled to welcome the Distinguished Speaker Series back to #BraveNation, with an array of speakers who will resonate with our diverse and energetic campus community,” said Dr. Lisa Schaeffer, vice chancellor for Student Affairs.

“We strive to offer accessible involvement opportunities to our students, those who live on campus or commute, which contribute to their overall wellbeing and campus life experience. This is a wonderful occasion where education is fused with entertainment.” 

Michael Eric Dyson

The return of the speaker series has created a buzz across campus and the community, according to Abdul Ghaffar, director of Campus Engagement and Leadership (formerly Office of Student Involvement and Leadership).

“Our Campus Engagement and Leadership team is excited to bring the series back to UNCP,” Ghaffar said. “It was a major program for the university for many years drawing people to campus from all over the region.

“We look forward to providing our students and community the opportunity to enjoy top speakers who touch on the major topics of the day. We expect our speaker series to be among the very best in the country.”

Sensmeier, a native of Alaska, moved to Los Angeles in 2007 to pursue acting and modeling. He has appeared in “The Magnificent Seven,” alongside Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt, and “Wind River.” Sensmeier also stars in the HBO series “Westworld.” He is set to play “Jim Thorpe in the Bright Path: The Jim Thorpe Story” produced by Angelina Jolie.

Wes Studi
Wes Studi

Studi, a veteran actor, has enjoyed a long career in movies spanning nearly 30 years. In his latest role, he plays Chief Yellow Hawk in “Hostiles” co-starring Christian Bale. A member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Studi has also appeared in “Street Fighter,” “Heat,” “Mystery Men,” “Avatar,” and the television series “Penny Dreadful.”

Dyson, a public intellectual and best-selling author, is a political analyst for MSNBC and a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. Winner of two NAACP Image Awards, Dyson holds a Ph.D. in religion from Princeton and has taught at Brown, Columbia, the University of North Carolina, DePaul University and the University of Pennsylvania.

A Boston native, Guerrero is also known for her role on “Jane the Virgin.” She is the author of “In the Country We Love: My Family Divided,” a memoir about her parents being detained and deported to Colombia when she was 14.