The Illinois State University Spring Speaker Series offers historians, authors, educators, and business leaders speaking on such topics as baseball in McLean county, the The Negro Leagues Baseball Grave Marker Project, zoos, and the five keys to health.

Diane Irvine ’81

3:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 28, Bone Student Center Braden Auditorium

Find Your Passion: Lessons for Life and Career will be presented by College of Business Week speaker Diane Irvine. She serves on the Board of Directors of Yelp, Inc., a user review and local search website. She previously served as chief executive officer and president of Blue Nile, Inc., the leading online retailer of diamonds and fine jewelry. Irvine joined Blue Nile as chief financial officer in 1999 and also served on Blue Nile’s Board of Directors from 2001–2011. She served on the Board of Directors of Davidson Companies, a leading regional financial services firm, from 1998–2009, and on the Board of Directors of Ticketmaster from 2008–2010. Irvine is a founding board member of the Fulcrum Foundation, an organization that provides financial support for Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Seattle.

Bill Kemp

7 p.m., Thursday, April 5, Milner Library main floor

Baseball in McLean County, 1857–1941 will be presented by McLean County Museum of History librarian and archivist Bill Kemp. Kemp holds graduate degrees from the University of Illinois Springfield and Illinois State University. He is a weekly columnist for The Pantagraph, writing stories about local history. His columns are illustrated by photographs from the museum’s collections and recount topics such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit to Bloomington; the end of the street car in 1936; local survivors of the Titanic disaster; the great fire that gutted Downtown Bloomington; the introduction of the telegraph; and the Poor Farm and orphanages that once existed here. Kemp’s presentation is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Library Association, and Milner Library.

Holly Atkinson

7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 12, Bone Student Center Braden Auditorium

The 5 Keys to Health will be presented by Science and Technology Week speaker personality Holly Atkinson. A well-known media personality and a gifted speaker, she has engaged audiences on achieving wellness for more than 20 years. She is the senior on-air medical correspondent and chief medical editor of HealthiNation, the leading digital consumer health video network. Atkinson has a broad range of experience as a medical correspondent, including assignments with NBC’s Today, The CBS Morning News, Lifetime Medical Television, and the PBS health show BodyWatch. She is an accomplished author, having written the best-selling book Women and Fatigue.

Jeremy Krock

7 p.m., Wednesday, April 18, Milner Library main floor

The Negro Leagues Baseball Grave Marker Project will be presented by Jeremy Krock, who is an anesthesiologist from Peoria. He received his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Still University Health Sciences/Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1984. In 2003, Krock began the project that has placed more than 25 grave markers at the unmarked graves of former Negro League baseball players, an umpire, and sportswriter. He has been interviewed by the Chicago Tribune, ESPN, National Public Radio, New York Times, NBC, and Sports Illustrated. Krock’s presentation is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Library Association, and Milner Library.

Benjamin Mee

7 p.m., Monday, April 23, Bone Student Center Brown Ballroom

We Bought a Zoo will be presented by Benjamin Mee, the owner of the Dartmoor Zoological Park. He will also offer a Q&A session at 3 p.m. on the main floor of Milner Library. Mee, a former bricklayer and decorator, returned to education in his early 20s in order to investigate animal intelligence. He studied psychology at the University College London (UCL) and wrote his dissertation on dolphin intelligence. His first article appeared in the Independent, while he was a student in science journalism at Imperial College. Mee subsequently made his living as a contributing editor to Men’s Health magazine and as a Guardian columnist, until commissioned by Penguin to write the book, Evolution of Humour in Man and Animals. While he was living in France and writing the book, the Dartmoor Zoological Park came up for sale. Mee divides his time between running the busy zoo and raising his two children. A book signing will follow his presentation, which is sponsored by The Sage Foundation Funds, CeMaST, and Milner Library. 

Adrian Burgos Jr.

7 p.m., Thursday, April 26, Milner Library main floor

From Cuban Giants to Cuban Stars: The International World of Black Baseball is the topic of the Adrian Burgos Jr. presentation. Burgos is an associate professor of history at the University of Illinois, specializing in U.S. Latino history, urban history, and sports history. His latest book, a biography of Alex Pompez titled Cuban Star: How One Negro League Owner Changed the Face of Baseball was published in 2011 by Hill & Wang. His first book, Playing America’s Game(s): Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line, received the inaugural Latino/a Book Award from the Latin American Studies Association. His presentation is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Library Association, and Milner Library.

Ernie L. Westfield

7 p.m., Thursday, May 3, Milner Library main floor

Negro League Baseball: Yesterday and Today will be presented by Ernie Westfield, who played for the Cubs in 1958 after finishing high school. He is a former Negro League baseball player who pitched for the Birmingham Black Barons. Westfield was the starting pitcher for the last East-West All-Star game on August 20, 1960, at Comiskey Park in Chicago. After baseball, Westfield received a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University and worked with the Illinois Department of Employment Security for 31 years, retiring in 1999. He is the CEO of ELW Enterprise, which specializes in Negro League memorabilia. A book signing will follow Westfield’s presentation, which is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Library Association, and Milner Library.

2 thoughts on “Spring Speaker Series

  1. Matthew Ng says:

    Can we just show up to these events and sit down and listen? Or is there a fee we need to pay?

    1. Brian says:


      Yes, unless otherwise noted, the events are free and open to the public.