Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute and author of a best-selling biography of the late Steve Jobs, comes to SMU March 27 as part of the 2011-12 Tate Distinguished Lecture Series. He will give the Lacerte Family Lecture at 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium.
As chief executive of the Aspen Institute, Isaacson leads the senior management of the nonpartisan educational and policy studies institute based in Washington, D.C. He also serves as chairman of the board of Teach for America, which recruits recent college graduates to teach in underserved communities.
Isaacson’s most recent book, Steve Jobs, was published by Simon & Schuster in October 2011, mere days after the inventor’s death from pancreatic cancer. It was named one of the “Best Books of 2011” by Amazon.com, where it also became the best-selling book of that year. In addition, it topped the New York Times nonfiction best-seller list for nine weeks and has remained on the chart continuously for 21 weeks as of the April 1, 2012 list.
Other books by Isaacson include Einstein: His Life and Universe (2007), Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (2003), and Kissinger: A Biography (1992). In addition, he was coauthor with Evan Thomas of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made (1986).
Isaacson began his career at The Sunday Times of London and then worked for The New Orleans Times-Picayune/States-Item. He joined TIME in 1978 and served as a political correspondent, national editor, and editor of new media before becoming the magazine’s 14th editor in 1996. Isaacson became chairman and CEO of CNN in 2001 and president and CEO of the Aspen Institute in 2003.
He was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as the chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and other international broadcasts of the United States, a position he held until 2012. For two years after Hurricane Katrina, from 2005-07, Isaacson served as vice-chair of the Louisiana Recovery Authority.
Currently, Isaacson is vice-chair of Partners for a New Beginning, a public-private group tasked with forging ties between the United States and the Muslim world. In addition, he serves on the boards of United Airlines and Tulane University, as well as the Board of Overseers of Harvard University.
A New Orleans native, Isaacson is a graduate of Harvard College and of Pembroke College of Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He lives with his wife and daughter in Washington, D.C.
The evening lecture is sold out, but SMU students may attend for free with their University ID if seats become available. Isaacson will answer questions from University community members and local high school students in the Turner Construction/Wells Fargo Student Forum at 4:30 p.m. March 27 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom. Doors open at 4 p.m.
The Forum is free, but seating is limited. SMU faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend; RSVP online to ensure a place. To ask Isaacson a question via Twitter, send a tweet with the hashtag #IsaacsonSMU. Student moderator Derek Hubbard will ask some of these questions during the event.