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MonFri, 8 am–4:30 pm
84 Church Street SE, Suite 390
Minneapolis, MN 55455

The 2017–18 Honors Lecture Series

The Successes of and Failures of North American Higher Education

The 2017–18 Honors Lecture Series features six Honors Alumni—all graduates from Honors programs at the University of Minnesota over the past thirty years. This diverse group of alumni—including an author, two academics, a musician, an activist, and an entrepreneur/scientist—will return to campus to speak about how their time at the University of Minnesota did—and did not—prepare them for the successes they have enjoyed since graduation. All lectures are free and will be held at 4:30pm on Mondays throughout the academic year.

Jennifer Delton, "Yes, Higher Education Is Liberal"

Monday, September 18, 2017, 4:30pm, Best Buy Theater, 4th Floor Northrop

Jennifer Delton is a professor of History at Skidmore College in upstate New York. Born and raised in St. Paul, she graduated with a B.A. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota in 1989 and subsequently discovered other states are just as wonderful to live in as Minnesota. Her work focuses on politics, business, and race in post-Civil War United States, yet she remains unable to predict what the political landscape will look like in five years, or even next month. She is author of three books, including most recently, Rethinking the 1950s: How Anticommunism and the Cold War Made America Liberal (2014), and is currently working on a history of U.S. manufacturing and politics in the twentieth-century.

Rachelle Cordova (Reina del Cid), "Honors to First Avenue: Turning Pro in the Arts"

Monday, October 16, 2017, 4:30pm, Best Buy Theater, 4th Floor Northrop

Rachelle Cordova (Reina del Cid) is a singer-songwriter and leader of the eponymous folk rock band based in Minneapolis. She studied English at the University of Minnesota and graduated summa cum laude in 2010. After gaining a significant following on YouTube and Facebook, Del Cid formed her band in 2011, quit her day job in publishing, and released an album entitled The Cooling, recorded at the legendary Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, MN. Reina del Cid's music has been featured on National Public Radio, 89.3 the Current, Paste Magazine, Baeble Music, and Minnesota Public Radio. The band is currently recording its third album, slated for release in the winter of 2017. Del Cid curates a video series on YouTube called Sunday Mornings with Reina del Cid, which has racked up over eight million views.

Erin Soderberg Downing, "Shakespeare to Sweet Valley High: Finding Success Without Taking Life Too Seriously"

Monday, November 6, 2017, 4:30pm, Best Buy Theater, 4th Floor Northrop

Erin Soderberg Downing is the author of more than fifty books for kids and young adults, including the 2017 middle-grade novel Moon Shadow, The Quirks and Puppy Pirates chapter book series, and the forthcoming Daring Dreamers Club series with Disney. Erin loves creating stories that are highly accessible and help inspire a lifelong love of exploring through reading. Before turning to writing full-time, she was a children’s book editor, a cookie inventor, and also worked for Nickelodeon. Erin graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English from the University of Minnesota (where she worked as a CLA Honors Peer Advisor) in 1999. She also received her MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business, and has twice been awarded a MN State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant. More information about Erin and her books can be found at and

Louis Johnston, "The Liberal Arts and the Wealth of Nations"

Monday, January 22, 2018, 4:30pm, Best Buy Theater, 4th Floor Northrop

Louis Johnston is Professor of Economics at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University. He earned his B.S. at the University of Minnesota (1983), and his M.A. (1987) and PhD (1990) at the University of California, Berkeley (all in Economics). Professor Johnston specializes in macroeconomics, economic history, and the connections between economic policy and economic history. His most recent projects focus on analyzing the evolution of Minnesota’s economy and how Minnesota became “above average” over the past 70 years.

Johnston was special contributor to the 4th and 5th editions of Principles of Economics by Robert H. Frank and Ben S. Bernanke (McGraw-Hill / Irwin, 2009, 2012), with responsibility for developing and writing all of the macroeconomics chapters along with the study guides and instructor manuals. He writes a regular column on economics and the economy for MinnPost and is a regular guest on Minnesota Public Radio and WCCO Radio.

Carol Becker, "The Butterfly Effect and My Left Foot"

Monday, February 26, 2018, 4:30pm, Best Buy Theater, 4th Floor Northrop

Carol Becker graduated with a B.A. Geography from the University of Minnesota in 1986, and then completyed an M.A. Public Affairs at the Humphrey School (1991) anda Doctorate in Public Administration from Hamline University (2008). She is President of the Minneapolis Board of Estimate and Taxation and a member, DFL Executive Committee and DFL Feminist Caucus.

Becker is is a teacher, politician, policy wonk and mom. She has 100 lawn signs that say, "Vote Becker: Geek is Good." She got $250 million dollars for something she wanted. She helped design the light rail system. She was laid off in the Great Recession and survived. Her life continues to be complicated.

Andrew Jones, "Entrepreneurship and the Collision of Science and Business: Explosive or Extraordinary?"

Monday, April 9, 2018, 4:30pm, Best Buy Theater, 4th Floor Northrop

Dr. Andrew Jones co-founded Activated Research Company (ARC) in July 2014 to pursue his passion for developing technologies relating to energy and chemistry. Andrew graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota in 2009 with degrees in chemical engineering and chemistry and went on to receive a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley where he studied catalysis under the direction of Professor Enrique Iglesia. He is the inventor of the Polyarc® system, a scientific instrument add-on device that helps enable scientists to analyze the composition of fuels, food, pharmaceuticals, and more in a better, faster and more economical way. In addition to raising his young son with his wife, Kristen, Andrew spends his time serving as the CEO of ARC and enjoying the lakes and trails in MN.