The Illinois State University Fall Speaker Series offers a wide variety of topics, including the art of tattooing, Cuban children airlifted to the U.S., early women at Illinois State (Normal) University, memoirs from a New York Times best-selling author, generational and innovation issues facing the Millennials and a CEO who left his job to become a teacher and founder of an inner-city charter school.

Milwaukee academic librarian Amelia Klem Osterud will present Behind the Curtain: The Tattooed Ladies at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 23, on the sixth floor of Milner Library.

Osterud is working on becoming heavily tattooed, just in case she ever wants a second career as a tattooed lady. She has a master’s degree in history from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and writes and lectures on the subject of tattooing. Osterud is the author of A Life of Her Own Choosing: Artoria Gibbon’s Fifty Years as a Tattooed Lady, published in the Wisconsin Magazine of History in 2006, and the novel The Tattooed Lady: A History.

Carlos Eire, one of 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban children airlifted to the U.S. in the early 1960s, will talk about his book Waiting for Snow in Havana at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept 30, in Braden Auditorium. A book signing will follow his presentation.

After bouncing from one foster home to another in Florida, Eire spent two years with an uncle in Bloomington (1963-1965), before reuniting with his mother in Chicago. He is now the T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies at Yale University. Before joining the Yale faculty in 1996, he taught at St. John’s University in Minnesota and the University of Virginia and spent two years at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is the author of War Against the Idols, From Madrid to Purgatory, A Very Brief History of Eternity and the forthcoming Reformations: Early Modern Europe 1450-1700. Eire is also co-author of Jews, Christians, Muslims: An Introduction to Monotheistic Religions. His memoir of the Cuban Revolution, Waiting for Snow in Havana, which won the National Book Award in nonfiction for 2003, has been translated into 13 languages, but is banned in Cuba, where he is considered an enemy of the state. The sequel to this memoir, Learning to Die in Miami, will be published this year and contains several chapters that focus on his life in Bloomington.

A Homecoming Celebration about the Contributions of Early Women to Illinois State University is the topic for Illinois State History faculty members Monica Noraian and Tina Brakebill and Sandra Harmon, retired History faculty member and former acting director of Women’s Studies. The 7 p.m. presentation on Thursday, Oct. 7, will take place on Milner Library’s main floor, with a book signing of Noraian’s Women’s Rights, Racial Integration, and Education from 1850-1920: The Case of Sarah Raymond, the First Female Superintendent following the presentation.

An Evening with Jeannette Walls will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14, in Braden Auditorium, with a book signing following the presentation. Preceding the evening will be a Q&A at 3 p.m. in Milner Library.

Critics have called best-selling author Jeannette Walls’ memoir, The Glass Castle, “spectacular,” “extraordinary,” “incredible” and “riveting.” It has been a New York Times best seller for more than three years, has sold more than two million copies, been translated into 16 languages and is being made into a movie by Paramount. It was named one of the “Top 10 Books of the Decade” by Amazon and has won numerous awards including the Christopher Award, the American Library Association’s Alex Award, and the Books for Better Living Award. The inspirational book has been taught at universities in courses on literature, psychology, parenting, child development and poverty. Walls has spoken at colleges, corporations and business associations about overcoming hardship and the keys to turning adversity to your advantage. Her follow-up book, Half Broke Horses: A True Life Novel, was an immediate New York Times best seller. It was selected by Independent Book Sellers as their “Best Read” for October 2009, and was called “essential reading” by Library Journal.

Pulitzer-Prize nominee Anya Kamenetz will present DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs and the Coming of Transformation of Higher Education at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20, in the Bone Student Center Prairie Room. A book signing will follow the presentation.

Kamenetz is a staff writer for Fast Company Magazine, Yahoo! finance expert and author of Generation Debt. She is a speaker on generational and innovation issues facing Millennials, also known as Generation Y, Generation Next or The Net Gens. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by the Village Voice, Kamenetz wrote Generation Debt: The New Economics of Being Young when she was just 24. The book drew national media attention and passionate online debate with its argument that young people are facing unique and unprecedented economic challenges. Her new book, DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs and the Coming of Transformation of Higher Education, tells the story of how technology is disrupting one of the most tradition-bound industries in the country.

Past CEO of H&R Block Tom Bloch will present Stand for the Best at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 15, in Braden Auditorium. A book signing will follow his presentation.

Bloch left the business world to become a middle-school math teacher in an inner-city school. Five years later, he co-founded the University Academy, a public charter school in Kansas City, where he continued to teach 7th and 8th grade math at the urban college prep school he helped design and launch. Bloch is the author of Stand for the Best: What I Learned after Leaving My Job as CEO of H&R Block to Become a Teacher and Founder of an Inner-City Charter School. The Academy, which has grown from 200 students in grades seven through nine in it first year to over 1,100 students K-12, moved into a new $40 million facility in 2005 and became the first Missouri school to receive a 10-year extension of its charter. Over the last seven years, all but four graduates of the Academy have gone on to attend college, an almost unheard-of success rate for an urban school.

CNN anchor and special correspondent Soledad O’Brien will speak on Diversity: On TV, Behind the Scenes and In Our Lives on Friday, Jan. 21, 2011 at 6 p.m. in the Bone Student Center Brown Ballroom. In CNN’s 2008 Black in America documentary series, O’Brien reported on a variety of issues facing the black community and the culture of black families in the U.S. She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.