The Fall 2019 Illinois State University Speaker Series will feature a transgender activist with a history of breaking down walls in society, an expert on U.S.-China relations, a renowned conservationist, a documentary filmmaker, and an Emmy-winning journalist.

The Illinois State University Speaker Series seeks to bring innovative and enlightening speakers to the campus with the aim of providing the community with a platform to foster dialogue, cultivate enriching ideas, and continue an appreciation of learning as an active and lifelong process.

Schuyler BailarHeadshot of Schuyler Bailar
American swimmer, transgender activist
5 p.m. September 20
Marriott Hotel and Conference Center
Housing Services LGBTQA Cultural Dinner

A recent graduate of Harvard University, Bailar is the first openly transgender NCAA Division I swimmer, and the first publicly documented NCAA D1 transgender man to compete as a man in any sport. Having lived on the margin as a “Woman, Korean American, Gay, Trans” and now often perceived as a privileged elite “Harvard white guy” Bailar’s inspiring story is filled with unique and insightful perspectives. Bailar will engage the group in an energetic conversation on topics ranging from his personal journey of coming out trans as a D1 athlete, finding joy in being your best you, the spectrum of masculinity, competing at elite levels as an LGBTQ athlete, empowering youth through social emotional learning, the role of disordered eating, self-harm, and therapy in his journey, and activism in our current political landscape.

Tickets for the dinner are available here for $20, or meal plan holders may use a meal swipe to make a reservation in exchange for one meal. Tickets will be available online until September 13 or until sold out. Tickets will not be sold at the door.

Headshot of Bonnie Glaser

Bonnie Glaser
Director of the China Power Project
“U.S.-China Relations: From Cooperative Partners to Strategic Competitors”
7 p.m. October 1
Circus Room of the Bone Student Center
2019 Hibbert R. Roberts Lecture in Public Policy
Free and open to the public.

Working at the intersection of Asia-Pacific geopolitics and U.S. policy, Bonnie Glaser serves as the senior adviser for Asia and director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Glaser works on issues related to Asia-Pacific security with a focus on Chinese foreign and security policy. She is a nonresident fellow with the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, and a senior associate with the Pacific Forum. Currently a board member of the U.S. Committee of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific, she is also a member of both the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Glaser received a bachelor’s in political science from Boston University and master’s with concentrations in international economics and Chinese studies from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.


Dwayne EstesHead shot of Dwayne Estes
Botanist, conservationist
6 p.m. October 17
Felmley Hall of Science in the Annex Auditorium, room 133
Free and open to the public.

Estes serves as executive director at the Southeastern Grasslands Initiative. He is a full professor of biology, director of the Austin Peay State University Herbarium, and principal investigator for the Center of Excellence for Field Biology. Estes’ research interests include the flora, ecology, history, biodiversity, and biogeography of the Southeastern U.S. with emphasis on grasslands.

His work has been widely published in over 20 periodicals, and he is co-author of the Guide to the Vascular Plants of Tennessee. He is active in building diverse support for Southeastern U.S. grasslands conservation, including bringing together philanthropists, government agencies, nonprofits, corporate and small-business partners, private landowners and ranchers, historians, educators, and citizen scientists.


Head shot of Jason SchmittJason Schmitt
Director, activist, professor
“Paywall: The Business of Scholarship”
5:30 p.m. October 21
Normal Theater in Uptown Normal
Free and open to the public.

Paywall: The Business of Scholarship has been screened around the globe. The documentary specifically investigates the economic and societal impact of academic publishing, the $25.2 billion a year that flows into for-profit academic publishers, the 35-40 percent profit margin associated with the top academic publisher Elsevier, and how that profit margin is often greater than some of the most profitable technology companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google.

Schmitt concentrates his research toward online education impacting a global audience, open access relating to academic publications, and the reproducibility crisis in science. As a journalist, he has written more than 70 pieces for outlets like Forbes Asia, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Slate, EdSurge, BoingBoing, EuroDoc, Elmore Magazine, and DBusiness. He also has had his photographic work featured in National Geographic.


Soledad O’BrienSoledad O'Brien Head Shot
Emmy-winning journalist, activist, news anchor
5 p.m. November 4
Brown Ballroom of the Bone Student Center
University Housing Services Cultural Dinner

As the host of the Sunday morning syndicated political show, Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien, she has established herself as one of the most recognized names in broadcasting. A champion of diversity, she gives voice to the underserved and disenfranchised through her Emmy-winning reporting and acclaimed documentary series, Black in America and Latino in America.

Tickets will be available online from September 20–October 28 or until sold out. Meal plan holders may use a meal swipe to make a reservation in exchange for one meal. Tickets will go on sale September 20 at the University Housing website.


W. Fitzhugh BrundageHead shot of W. Fitz Brundage
U.S. historian and author of Civilizing Torture: An American Tradition
“The Third Degree: Policing and the American Tradition of Torture”
7 p.m. November 14
Old Main Room of the Bone Student Center
Robert G. Bone Distinguished Lecture

W. Fitzhugh Brundage, an eminent U.S. historian and author of Civilizing Torture: An American Tradition, is the William B. Umstead Professor of History at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. His talk is free and open to the public.

Civilizing Torture: An American Tradition, which was a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in history, explores how Americans have resorted to torture during moments of crisis and have attempted to reconcile its use with American democratic ideals. It is one of seven books Brundage has published. His other works include the award-winning Lynching in the New South and The Southern Past: A Clash of Race and Memory.