Byron Pitts comes to MCLA as this year’s Hardman Lecture Speaker


Byron Pitts, news anchor and chief national correspondent for ABC, is coming to MCLA for this fall’s Hardman Lecture Series. His talk will take place at 7 pm on Wednesday, Oct. 18 in the Church Street Center.

“He rose very quickly to the top of our lists,” said Professor Zachary Finch. “He’s such an inspiring story teller and really embodies the principals of journalism. He says that he wants to give voice to the voiceless.”

Professor Finch is one of two individuals who work to find candidates for the lectures, working alongside Professor Joseph Ebiware as Hardmen Co-Scholars. They get together every spring to find new and exciting people for the series.

“We confer with other members of the College Community, in particularly with the Dean of Academic Affairs, and we begin by brainstorming a list of possible names, and by soliciting names from our colleagues as well.”

Pitts worked for CBS before he becoming chief national correspondent for ABC. There, he performed many impressive feats of journalism including acting as their lead correspondent at Ground Zero following the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center; he won an Emmy for his coverage.

Pitts has authored two books, an autobiography tited called “Step Out On Nothing” and “Be the One,” which tells the stories of six young individuals succeeding in near impossible situations. MCLA’s bookstore will be featuring both of them alongside a special book signing after the talk.

“Once I knew he was coming, I got copies of his books for the office,” Jenna Ware said. “I read them both. I thought his autobiography was fascinating.”

Ware works in MCLA’s Office of Institutional Advancement as the Coordinator of Special Events and Conference Planning. She works on facilitating and establishing special events for the college like the Hardman Lecture Series.

“What I thought was really amazing about his autobiography was that it was structured like news stories,” she said. “It’s not a normal flow, it’s like someone making an in-depth newscast. It’s great.”

“His own life story is very compelling,” Professor Finch said. “We also heard that he’s a tremendous public speaker, that he’s very charismatic, very outgoing and really holds the audience.”

The subject of Pitts’s talk is “Mass Media and Democratic Governance: The American Experience”. He’s anticipated to speak on both the their relationship and the clear differences between them.

“I love opportunities for the whole College to come together,” Finch said. “Whether it’s a speaker, a theatrical performance or a community engagement event. I thinks it’s nice for students to get out of the classroom and engage in some of the programming we do.”

After reading his books Ware said, “To say he’s nice is kind of bland. He seems like a really full person. He’s had difficulties and hardship in life. He’s had people who supported him, people who put him down. And he’s sort of come through all these difficulties and found real success in life.”

“If you have any doubt at all about whether to go,” said Finch. “You should say, ‘Yes, I’m going to go,’ It’s only an hour of your evening, but you’re gonna emerge from this lecture motivated, and refreshed and inspired. That I can guarantee.”