Davidson Distinguished Lecture Series


The Davidson Distinguished Lecture Series at Midland College

In May 1996, Steve Davidson and Susan Davidson McClenahan of the Davidson Family Charitable Foundation announced the endowment of the Davidson Distinguished Lecture Series. Twice a year, the Davidson Distinguished Lecture Series, Midland College Foundation and Friends of the Series present speakers whose civic leadership, academic accomplishments and/or public achievements interest, enrich, and enlighten Midland students and citizens. These lectures are FREE to the public. 

The series began with a lecture by David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize-winning historial and author, on March 6, 1997, and this lecture also inaugurated the 25th Anniversary Celebration of Midland College. The Davidson Distinguished Lecture Series presents, twice a year, speakers whose academic accomplishments, civic leadership and/or public achievements will interest, enrich and enlighten Midland students and citizens. To accommodate as many students and community members as possible, the lectures are held on the Midland College campus.

 The Davidson Distinguished Lecture Series 


Elizabeth Smart

Victim of Infamous Child Abduction

Elizabeth Smart

Tuesday, September 19, 2017 
7:30 p.m.
Al G. Langford Chaparral Center

Elizabeth Smart

One of the biggest national abduction news stories of our time, the kidnapping and recovery of Elizabeth Smart captured the nation's attention from June 5, 2002, when she was taken at knifepoint, to when the police safely returned her back to her family on March 12, 2003. Held prisoner for 9 grueling months, repeatedly threatened and tormented, Smart emerged a symbol of perseverance and strength when she triumphantly testified before her captor and the world about her very private nightmare. 

Through this traumatic experience, Smart has become a leading advocate for change related to child abduction, recovery programs and national legislation. The founder of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, dedicated to preventing crimes against children, Smart has also helped promote The National AMBER Alert, The Adam Walsh Child Protection & Safety Act and other similar efforts. Her abduction and recovery continues to encourage broad vigilance and motivate parents, law enforcement and leaders worldwide to focus on children's safety. 

Smart chronicled her experiences in the New York Times best-seller, My Story. She also worked with other abduction survivors and the U.S. Department of Justice to create You're Not Alone: The Journey From Abduction to Empowerment, a survivors guide intended to encourage and help children who have gone through similar experiences. 

A daily demonstration that there is life after a tragic event, Smart is an irrefutable model of perseverance in the face of unimaginable adversity. With bravery and wisdom far beyond her years, Smart captivates audiences with her story and insight on overcoming adversity, the importance and process of recovery, and not allowing one's past to dictate one's future. 


Past Davidson Distinguished Lectures (1997-Present)
Dr. Sanjay Gupta      
Blake Mycoskie Stephen Dubner Bill Nye James Lovell
Dr. Jane Goodall Ed Viesturs Dr. Michio Kaku Vicente and Marta Fox, with Ruben Navarette
Dr. Spencer Wells Celia Sandys Fareed Zakaria Doris Kearns Goodwin
Thomas Cahill E. O. Wilson Dr. Steven Pinker Col. Eileen Collins
Richard Smith Michael Beschloss Ken Burns Bill Bryson
Dr. Richard Leakey H. W. Brands John Updike Jared Diamond
Dr. Michael Barenbaum Sandra Day O'Connor David Brooks Ben Stein
Anna Deavere Smith Dr. Neil de Grasse Tyson Alvah Simon Lee Cullum
Bill Moyers Shelby Foote Dr. Kevin Ryan Ken Burns
Mark Russell James Burke Lynn Ashby Prudence McKenzie
Richard Rodriguez David McCullogh    

Davidson Distinguished Lecture Series Committee


Kathy Robbins - Chair Michael Makowsky
Rebecca Bell Katy Morrow
Dr. Sonia Ford Luke Musselman
Chris Hightower Fred Newman
Dr. Pamela Howell  
James Hunnicut, Esq.  



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