Cohen Arts and Lectures Series Passes a Milestone

This year marked the 20th anniversary of the Cohen Arts and Lectures Series, founded by Bertha F. Cohen ’37 and the late Bernard L. Cohen. The series has brought outstanding speakers on politics, current affairs, and the arts, including former president Jimmy Carter, novelist Kurt Vonnegut, television journalists David Brinkley and Andrea Mitchell, folksinger Burl Ives, scientist Carl Sagan, feminist Gloria Steinem, former U.N. ambassador Andrew Young, essayist Anna Quindlen, and environmental activist Joseph P. Kennedy II. It has also brought renowned performing artists to Moravian, including pianist Vladimir Feltsman, the New York Philomusica chamber ensemble, and the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra.

This year’s speaker was Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, winner of three Pulitzer Prizes for his coverage of the Middle East and the world before and after September 11. He spoke to an audience of more than 1,500 people in Johnston Hall, afterward signing copies of his latest book, Longitudes and Attitudes.
Friedman was typical of past Cohen lecturers in attending a reception for trustees and faculty and answering a generous number of audience questions after his talk. James West, professor of economics and business, who coordinates the Cohen Arts and Lectures, says the series has had many speakers who gave more to the College than a lecture.

Kennedy, for instance, was supposed to debate environmental issues with Jack Kemp, but Kemp was unable to meet the commitment. Kennedy agreed to come and speak on his own. “Although his formal remarks were surprisingly short,” said West, “he did an extended Q and A. The best part was that he and his wife came to a session with about 50 students the next morning and gave a very warm and enthusiastic presentation. He was certainly the most gregarious. Young was a close second.”

Proceeds from the series go to a scholarship fund. Since the fund was established in 1990, more than 50 Moravian students have been named Cohen Scholars. The award goes to full-time Moravian College seniors who have demonstrated superior academic achievement and active participation in college or community activities.

This year’s recipients were Kristen Kuchera, an elementary education major who has been an America Reads tutor and has taught Spanish to children at Thomas Jefferson School; Lisa Montafia, who created an individually designed major in nutritional science; Christine Pukszyn, an elementary education and psychology major who is also a four-year member of the Moravian College Dancers; and Scott Williams, a political science major working on an Honors project on energy policy, national security, and the electrical grid, which has proved remarkably timely. “I wrote the proposal in May,” Scott says, “and it came to the forefront of the news in August!”

Thomas Friedman considers the answer to an audience member’s question after his speech in Johnston Hall on October 2, 2003.

Photo: Jonathan Thomas ’05