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ANNUAL MANUAL '09: Rochester Colleges 

You live, you learn


With nearly a dozen colleges and universities in the area, Rochester offers an academic atmosphere mixed with all the fun that comes with having a rich vein of young adults making the most out of their college years. For those already past their four (or seven) boisterous years of themed parties, cramming for exams, and receiving all those cool event discounts that come with being a starving college kid, the past is knocking. Many area colleges offer lecture series that are open to the general public, with several bringing in big names offering words of wisdom you won't find anywhere else. Below find a handful of free lectures and educational series open to the general public.

The Plutzik Reading series, named for the late poet HyamPlutzik, brings well known writers to the University of Rochester's river campus, where they read and discuss pieces of their work as, well as answer questions from the audience all in the comfort of the cozy Welles-Brown room in Rush Rhees Library.

            "Our goal is to bring the best writers, the most serious practitioners of verbal artistry, poets, and novelists who stand up to the best writers in our literary history," says James Longenbach, director of the series and English professor at UR. "Such writers are sometimes famous, but they are always extremely entertaining. By which I mean a wide array of things: not just funny, but challenging, harrowing, thought-provoking -- the whole human contraption." Past authors who have taken part in the series include Jonathan Franzen, Edward Hirsch, Claudia Rankine, and John Koethe.

            Upcoming speakers in the 2008-09 series include authors Frank Bidart on March 23 and Anthony Doerr on April 8, both at 8 p.m. For more information call the UR English department at 275-4092, or visit

The Caroline Werner Gannett Project invites a variety of speakers in the sciences and humanities to Rochester Institute of Technology's Henrietta campus to lecture on anything from jazz to geography. "Speakers or performers do not do a single fly-in, fly-out lecture for the campus and community," says Dr. Mary Lynn Broe, the Caroline Werner Gannett chair. "They have lunch with and are videotaped being interviewed by RIT students. Usually there is a workshop or colloquium or gallery talk about the speakers, often involving their participation. We have a book sale and signing following each talk where the community can hang out for a while and visit with our guests." Past lecturers have included transrealist author and mathematician Rudy Rucker, extreme dance choreographer Elizabeth Streb, and blogsterZe Frank.

            Coming up the project will welcome "BoingBoingBlog" author and illustrator Mark Frauenfelder and his wife, Carla Sinclair, editor-in-chief of Craft magazine on March 26; children's book author and illustrator MairaKalman on April 6; and Leroy Hood, founder of the Institute for Systems Biology, who will lecture about the complexities of biology in the 21st century on April 23. Rumored to be coming in the fall is J. Craig Venter, biologist and founder of the Institute for Genomic Research. All lectures start at 8 p.m. in the Webb or Ingle auditoriums, and are free and open to the public.

            For more information call 475-7174 or visit

A unique collaboration between Nazareth College and the Italian-American community in Rochester, Casa Italianahosts a bevy of events year-round to help educate the general public about the rich culture of Italy. Programming includes language courses, kids activities, and a variety of special events -- you can even reserve the bocce court for a game or two. The spring 2009 edition of the Casa's free public lecture series dealt with fascism in literature in film, and will conclude April 15 with a screening of the film "Edda Ciano Mussolini," followed by a lecture by professor Maria Rosaria Vitti-Alexander. A travelogue focusing on Southern Italian regions Calabria and Sicily will take place April 18.

            For more information call 389-2468, or visit

SUNY Brockport is home to two public lecture series, one of which focuses on business and the other on writing. In spring 2009 the Business Briefings Speaker Serieswill welcome Sarah Lentini, president and CEO of the Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester, on March 26; Michael Doyle, the regional vice president of Entercom Communications Corporation, on April 16; and Ali M. Zoibi, the president and publisher of the Democrat and Chronicle on April 23. The lectures will address national and regional challenges and opportunities in the arts, print, and broadcast media. Lectures start at 7:45 a.m. in the grand hallway of the Brockport MetroCenter at 55 St. Paul Street.

            The Writer's Forum, like the Plutzik Series, also brings writers to campus to discuss their work. In the spring 2009 semester cartoonist Lynda Barry, fiction writer Michelle Wildgen, and non-fiction writer Ian Frazier will share their work with the public on March 25, April 8, and April 29, respectively. All lectures are at 8 p.m. in the New York Room of Cooper Hall on Brockport's campus. For more information call 395-5713, or visit

The First Friday Faculty Lecture Series at St. JohnFisherCollege adds faculty members to the mix. Professors lecture on various topics on the first Friday of most months throughout the semester. Past lectures have included Dr. Linda MacCammon's "What is the Bible Anyways?", and "When it Comes to Title IX, Please Don't Recycle," by Professor Emily Dane. The final lecture of the spring 2009 semester will take place April 3 with the topic still pending, and lectures will continue in the fall semester. All lectures start at 10 a.m. in Basil 135 on the Fisher campus. For more information call 385-8354 or visit

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