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California State University, Long Beach
Distinguished Speaker Series
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Past Speakers

Admiral Eric Olson Admiral Eric Olson - 2012 CSULB Distinguished Speaker

Admiral Eric Olson is a retired 4-Star Navy admiral, 38-year Navy SEAL, and former Commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) from 2007-2011.

Long before special operations forces and Navy SEAL’s became household terms, Admiral Olson was among those quiet professionals performing the most difficult tasks in the most difficult of circumstances. During his tenure as America’s top special operations officer, he was responsible for recruiting, training, equipping and deploying broadly capable forces worldwide.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has said, “As a result I this hard work, we now have the best-trained, best-equipped and most experienced Special Operations Force in the history of the United Sates.” Olson is often described as one on this century’s great military leaders, and is credited with developing the specialized forces that have accomplished some of the most notable military operations of the last decade. Many of the military’s most significant operational successes of recent years van be traced back directly to decisions made by Admiral Olson over the course of his extraordinary career.

Admiral Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said “When the history of these wars is written, the first, last and most pivotal chapters will be about Eric and the people he has led and trained and mentored his entire adult life. From the shadows of the Hindu Kush to the streets of Baghdad, our special operators have literally changed the face of modern warfare.”

Click here to watch Straight Talk Interview with Admiral Eric Olson

Juan WilliamsJuan Williams - 2011 CSULB Distinguished Speaker

Juan Williams, FOX News political analyst and top Washington journalist, was the featured speaker for the fifth annual Distinguished Speaker Series on October 20, 2011. His keynote address, Muzzled: Political Debate in America, dealt with how the media limits political debate and the continuing role of race in our national dialogue.

Williams is one of America's leading political writers and thinkers, and is a former correspondent for NPR. His well-publicized dismissal from NPR occurred after he commented publicly that Muslims in traditional dress boarding planes made him nervous. In the wake of NPR's controversial decision, he wrote Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate, discussing the countless ways in which honest debate in America is stifled.

Prior to his stint at NPR, Williams was an award-winning writer and columnist for more than 20 years at The Washington Post. He is the author of several books, including the acclaimed biography, Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary. With an honest and unflinching perspective on American race relations, Williams spurs individuals across the political spectrum to challenge their own assumptions and re-examine the role race plays in this country.

Click here to watch Straight Talk Interview with Juan Williams

Arianna HuffingtonArianna Huffington - 2010 CSULB Distinguished Speaker

Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, nationally syndicated columnist and co-host of public radio’s Left, Right and Center was the featured speaker for the fourth annual Distinguished Speaker Series on October 21, 2010. She spoke about Politics and the New Media, which addressed how the internet is shifting power to citizens and is having a game-changing impact on the political world.

Huffington is the author of 13 books. In May 2005, she launched The Huffington Post, a news and blog site that has quickly become one of the most widely read, linked to, and frequently-cited media brands on the internet.

In 2006, Huffington was named to the Time 100, Time magazine's list of the world's 100 most influential people. In 2009, she was named as one of the most influential women in media by Forbes magazine, and in 2009 she also was named to the Financial Times' list of 50 people who shaped the decade.

Huffington's books include Third World America, Pigs at the Trough: How Corporate Greed and Political Corruption are Undermining America, On Becoming Fearless in Love, Work and Life, and The Woman behind the Legend, a biography of Maria Callas.

Click here to watch Straight Talk Interview with Arianna Huffington

William D. CohanWilliam D. Cohan - 2009 CSULB Distinguished Speaker

William D. Cohan, former senior Wall Street banker, author of two best-selling books and award-winning investigative journalist, was the featured speaker for the third annual Distinguished Speaker Series on November 18, 2009. He spoke about House of Cards, his 2009 exposé of the hubris and wretched excess on Wall Street that preceded the collapse of Bear Stearns and the 2008 financial meltdown.

Cohan is the author of two books about Wall Street, The Last Tycoons and House of Cards, which lay out in gory detail how the financial crisis began with the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers. He is currently working on another Wall Street book, this one on Goldman Sachs, due for publication in 2011. Cohan also writes regularly for Fortune and The Financial Times, and his columns have appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Cohan was a Wall Street banker for 17 years and has an insider's in-depth knowledge of investment banking. He worked for such stellar firms as Lazard Frčresj, Merrill Lynch and JPMorganChase. A graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism, Cohan is able to explain complicated financial matters in an understandable manner. His books have reached the best-seller lists of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. The Last Tycoons received the 2007 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs "business book of the year" award.

Click here to watch Straight Talk Interview with William D. Cohan

Seymour HershSeymour Hersh - 2008 CSULB Distinguished Speaker

Seymour Hersh, widely acknowledged as the most influential and acclaimed investigative reporter of our time, was the featured speaker for the second annual Distinguished Speaker Series on October 15, 2008. He spoke on “Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Now.”  His special focus is, and always has been, the abuse of power in the name of national security.

Hersh won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his work exposing the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War. Other journalism prizes include a record five George Polk Awards, the Lennon-Ono Peace Prize and more than a dozen other prizes for investigative reporting.  Hersh has written eight books including “The Price of Power” for which he won the National Book Award and “Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib.”

His ground -breaking reports include many that are landmark events in American journalism, including the Abu Ghraib prison abuse in Iraq, the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, the C.I.A.’s bombing of Cambodia, Henry Kissinger’s wiretapping of his own staff, and the C.I.A.’s efforts against Chile’s assassinated President, Salvador Allende. A former reporter for the New York Times, Hersh’s articles most recently have appeared in the New Yorker magazine, covering such subjects as the looming threat of war with Iran and a detailed account of the Israeli raid on suspected Syrian nuclear facilities.

Click here to watch Straight Talk Interview with Seymour Hersh

Michael JosephsonMichael Josephson - 2007 CSULB Distinguished Speaker

Michael Josephson, founder and president of the Joseph and Edna Josephson Institute of Ethics and one of the nation's foremost ethics consultants to educational institutions, major corporations and government officials, was the featured speaker for the launch of the Distinguished Speaker Series on October 10, 2007. He spoke on "Ethics in America" to an audience of more than 700.

Josephson founded the national youth initiative Character Counts! and the Pursuing Victory with Honor sportsmanship campaign, both highly successful national youth initiatives that have reached more than six million young people through partnerships with schools and service organizations. He has led more than 1,000 ethics programs for more than 100,000 leaders in business, government, the media, law enforcement and education.

He has appeared on Primetime Live, Nightline, ABC World News Tonight, the Today Show, Fox News Live, CBS Evening News, The O'Reilly Factor and ESPN Sportszone and his commentary is heard regularly on KNX 1070 NewsRadio and public radio.

Click here to watch Straight Talk Interview with Michael Josephson