Book lovers, rejoice. There are plans to bring some today’s brightest writers to give presentations at Texas A&M University-Commerce as part of a speaker series to begin this fall.
Mark Haslett: Texas A&M University-Commerce Interim President Dr. Ray Keck has plans to do a lot more than keep the institution running until a permanent hire has been made. Keck intends to build on the work done by those who went before and also implement some of his own ideas. For example - there’s some good news for those who’d like to see the university increase its cultural offerings for the communities of Northeast Texas. Keck is organizing what he calls a “book-oriented lecture series.”
Ray Keck: A series, three or four in the fall, three or four in the spring. These would be lectures by University faculty from other parts of the country. Our colleagues from around the country who are writing today exciting and interesting books about current topics. These are the sorts of books that are reviewed in the New York Review of Books or the London Review of Books or the New York Times Sunday Book Review. I’ve discovered that these men and women who write these fascinating books are very willing to come, they’re university faculty themselves. They’re very willing to come and speak to students and visit a campus, and I would like to bring a series of them in this fall and this spring. These are not motivational speakers, these are not household names. These are people who are doing the very thing our faculty are doing, they’re writing books and thinking about difficult issues in our society. So it’s not hard to quickly make up a list of people you’d like to get, and my experience is these people respond very happily to this invitation.
Haslett: Keck spent 15 years as the president of Texas A&M International University in Laredo. He says a similar series there was very successful. Keck’s already thinking about which high-profile writers and thinkers might be coming to Commerce this fall. He mentioned as possibilities a couple of his favorites from the series at A&M International.
Keck: A man who was the dean of the law school at Vanderbilt, now he’s on the faculty there, Edward Rubin. He’s written a book called “Soul, Self and Society,” and the book – it’s Charlemagne to Barack Obama and it’s how have social structures affected the way we behave morally. It’s a brilliant book, Oxford University Press. Very well written, very easy to read. I read it breathlessly, turning the pages almost as fast as I possibly could, and then immediately got on the web and sent him an email that said I want to meet you and I want you to come. Another one, Paul Eli writes for the New Yorker, if you read the New Yorker, you’ll very soon read one of his articles. He teaches at Georgetown, creative writing and English. He wrote a book on Flannery O’Connor, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton and Walker Percy, and it’s a brilliant, brilliant book about life in socially active circles in America, people who take spiritual life seriously and believe there’s a relationship between our spiritual leanings and our social action. It’s a brilliant book. Paul Elie is an amazing man. I was charmed to spend two days with him when he came to Laredo. I’ve already emailed him and said will you come to Commerce and he said yes I will.
Haslett: Next week on North by Northeast, we’ll hear more from Dr. Ray Keck, Interim President of Texas A&M-University-Commerce, about his plans for the upcoming year.