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 


Barak Goodman

Award-winning Documentary Filmmaker

Barak Goodman

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 
7:30 p.m.
Al G. Langford Chaparral Center

Barak Goodman


Over the course of twenty years and more than thirty films, Barak Goodman has become one of the most prolific and acclaimed non-fiction filmmakers in America.


Bracketed by the Academy-Award nominated “Scottsboro: An American Tragedy” (2000) and the acclaimed Sundance and theatrical film “Oklahoma City”, Goodman’s films have explored the greatness, turbulence, and moral complexity of American life.


In “Daley” (1996) and “Clinton” (2011), for the PBS series American Experience, Goodman examined the vicissitudes of power in epic multi-hour biographies of the most powerful mayor in modern American history and one of its most intriguing presidents. Both films received numerous honors, including the Emmy and Emmy nominations for direction and writing.

In a string of three documentaries in the mid 2000’s, “Kinsey” (2005), “Boy in the Bubble” (2006) and “The Lobotomist” (2008), Goodman explored the fitful progress and occasional hubris of American medicine and science. Those themes are continued in Goodman’s most recent work, the epic six-hour series “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies” (2015), based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, which was one of PBS biggest science series ever.

Goodman produced a pair of films about our greatest president in 2009. “Looking for Lincoln” and “The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln” elucidated Lincoln’s life and death in moving detail using a wide-range of filmmaking techniques. Both films were honored with numerous broadcasting awards. In 2011, he completed the Peabody and National Emmy Award-winning film “My Lai.”

“The Fight” (2004), an official selection of the Sundance film festival and a winner of a National Emmy for best direction, is the story of the epic bouts between American boxer Joe Louis and German boxer Max Schmeling on the eve of World War II.


Among Goodman’s investigations of contemporary American life are “Listening to Children: A Moral Journey with Robert Coles” (1994), a tour through the inner lives of a group of American children from a variety of backgrounds; “The Church of Scientology” (1999), a penetrating inside look at the controversial religion; “Failure to Protect” (2003), a two-part DuPont-Columbia Award-winning investigation of child protective services in Maine; and “The Lost Children of Rockdale County” (1999), an acclaimed Peabody-Award winning film about privilege and anomie among a group of suburban teenagers in Georgia.

In 2001 and 2004, Goodman and his wife Rachel Dretzin made a pair of films analyzing the impact of the modern advertising, PR, and marketing industries on American life and politics, “Merchants of Cool”  (winner of the Columbia DuPont Award) and “The Persuaders”, both for the PBS series FRONTLINE.

In the fall of 2012 completed “Makers”, a three-hour film chronicling the modern Women’s Movement. And In 2014, Goodman covered the sweeping history of Cancer as director of the Emmy nominated six-hour series “The Emperor of All Maladies”.


In February, 2017, Goodman’s pair of films on the rise of homegrown terrorism, “Oklahoma City” and “Ruby Ridge”, aired on American Experience in back-to-back weeks, as well as premiering at Sundance and in theaters.

Goodman is currently working on films commemorating the 50th anniversary of Woodstock and exploring the disastrous impact of gerrymandering on the democratic process.


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