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Speakers' Bureau & Outreach

A Service to Our Community

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at RIT provides a volunteer service to organizations in our community through our Speakers' Bureau program. Need an interesting presentation for your event? Our lecturers will present their topics of expertise at no cost to the requesting organization. In keeping with our academic focus, topic areas include the arts, literature, history, government, and science/technology.

 

To Schedule a Speaker

Scheduling is easy. Simply contact the Osher staff at (585) 292-8989 and we will put you in contact with the Speakers' Bureau coordinator.

(Note: 45 minutes to 1 hour is the preferred time slot for most presentations.)

Topics

Art & Music

Famous Faces and Famous Footwear
Presented By: Marilyn Gillespie

In 1986 Marilyn quit her job to see if she could become an artist. She taught herself to create watercolor portraits using three dimensional folded papers for the clothing of authors and artists she admired. She created sculptured clay shoes women have worn from Thebes to the present. The talk and slides will present an overview of her work as an artist.

The Carousel
Presented By: Carol Samuel

Learn what brought about the Golden Age of Carousels in the early twentieth century. Understanding the history of the magnificent classic carousels through discussion of the "anatomy" of the machine may take one back in time and enhance your enjoyment of that endangered magical ride.

The Lives and Music of George and Ira Gershwin
Presented By: Lewis Neisner

George composed the music and his brother Ira the lyrics to some of the most popular music of The Great American Songbook including The Man I Love, Embraceable You, S' Wonderful, A Foggy Day, They Can't Take That Away From Me, Our Love Is Here to Stay, and many others.

The Lives and Music of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart
Presented By: Lewis Neisner

No two men could be more different in personality and work habits than the composer Richard Rodgers and the lyricist Lorenz Hart.  Yet together they wrote some of the most memorable songs of the Great American Songbook including Manhattan, My Funny Valentine, The Lady is a Tramp, Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, Blue Room, Easy to  Remember, and many others.

History

A Visual History of Slavery in America
Presented By: Neil Frankel

The Atlantic slave trade began in 1444 when a Portuguese ship ventured down the west coast of Africa to the Senegal River, and discovered that black slaves were easily acquired. This presentation will trace the 400 year history of the Atlantic slave trade and slavery in America by means of images and maps.

Fascinating Israel
Presented By: Bob Vukosic

This travelogue of a March 2016 tour of Israel provides an up-close look at the treasure trove of historical and biblical sights as well as an appreciation of the accomplishments and beauty of modern Israel. Some of the major attractions of the tour include Tel Aviv, the UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the Baha’i Shrine in Haifa and the immense underground Crusader City in Acre, a visit to a kibbutz, a cruise on the Sea of Galilee, the walled city of old Jerusalem, the Masada desert fortress, and the Dead Sea.

Harriet Tubman
Presented By: Neil Frankel

Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery in Maryland and began to live as a free woman in Philadelphia. Life was good. But she was committed to helping others to escape. She returned to the South numerous times, at great risk to herself, and led hundreds of slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. I will share several stories and describe the life of this wonderful woman.

Mesoamerica
Presented By: James Nofziger

James Nofziger presents a tour of Mesoamerican cities, their cultures, monuments and arts. Walk through the archaeological sites, as he recalls his wanderings in Mesoamerica and people he met on the road. Learn about early explorers, archaeologists, anthropologists, and linguists.

New Netherland: The Dutch Colony Which Became New York
Presented By: Tom Lathrop

The Dutch colony of New Netherland was first settled in 1624, and was surrendered to the English in 1664. This course presents a history of New Netherland, and examines how the Dutch legacy in New York influenced what America would become in the nineteenth century.

Rochester POI (Persons of Interest)
Presented By: Bob Vukosic

Inspired by Jim Memmott’s D&C series on Remarkable Rochesterians, Rochester POI through images, sounds, and stories shares some of the rich history of Rochester’s persons of interest.  Come and meet our town’s current and past movers and shakers – public figures, entrepreneurs, rascals, entertainers, mobsters, inventors, daredevils, and notable individuals in Social Work, Religion, Public Service, Media, Civil Rights, Sports and more.

 

You will hear some interesting tidbits about our well known Rochesterians and you may be surprised by the list of people with strong Rochester connections, and by the deeds and accomplishments of some of our lesser known citizens as well.

Searching for the Erie Canal
Presented By: Tim McDonnell

When New Yorkers, led by DeWitt Clinton, constructed the Erie Canal in the early nineteenth century, it changed the state and the nation forever. Later on, two revisions of the canal were made: the enlarged Erie Canal and the Barge Canal, still in operation today. We will discuss all three canals and the remarkable "ruins" that we can all visit today from Albany to Buffalo.

The Carousel
Presented By: Carol Samuel

Learn what brought about the Golden Age of Carousels in the early twentieth century. Understanding the history of the magnificent classic carousels through discussion of the "anatomy" of the machine may take one back in time and enhance your enjoyment of that endangered magical ride.

The Real Underground Railroad
Presented By: Tim McDonnell

Thousands of "Freedom Seekers" left slavery and headed north. Their stories have been either forgotten or turned into myths. In this talk, we will discuss what is really known about this Underground Railroad with a special emphasis on New York and the Rochester area.

Time of Fear: Japanese-American Internment During WWII
Presented By: Bob Vukosic

One of the most heroic times in American history is also the darkest; while World War II raged on and U.S. soldiers fought for freedom and democracy elsewhere, Japanese-Americans were removed from their homes and communities and interned in camps situated in the farthest recesses of Arkansas and elsewhere. In this presentation we will explore who, what, when, where, and why of Japanese-American Internment.

Life

Go for the Gold! - Sudoku Puzzle Solving
Presented By: Bob Vukosic

Participants in this seminar will learn to solve Sudoku Puzzles using strategies that are easy to implement, fun to do, and are effective on both easy and more challenging puzzles.  No math is involved; just simple logic and an easy to use markup notation gets results fast.

Why Mediate? What mediation is, what it isn't, and what it can do
Presented By: Flo Paxson

Mediation assists frustrated teens and parents, petulant neighbors, angry tenants and landlords, and warring parents trying to resolve child-custody issues peacefully. This talk will show how mediation works and discuss its benefits. A mock mediation will be included.

Literature

Almighty God Bierce
Presented By: Ed Scutt

Ambrose G. Bierce was a late nineteenth-century wit, satirist and curmudgeon. His collection of ironic definitions, The Devil's Dictionary, has provoked readers since his mysterious disappearance in 1913. His stories and columns perfected surprise endings and commented on the contemporary culture with acerbic insight. The talk will review the life and work of this underappreciated American critic.

I... Write To Discover...
Presented By: Ed Scutt

Flannery O'Connor, mid-twentieth century "Southern Gothic" novelist and short story writer left a small, but important legacy to American literature - two novels and two short story collections. Her best known work,WISE BLOOD, (which was made into a film by John Houston) and her stories such as "A Good Man Is Hard To Find" are often read in high school and college classes. She died at thirty-nine years old of Lupus, and we can only speculate about what more her legacy might have been.

Sherlock Holmes
Presented By: Lewis Neisner

Sherlock Holmes is one of the best known fictional characters in history. The fifty-six short stories and four novels written by Arthur Conan Doyle between 1887 and 1927 have been translated into over 200 languages and have never been out of print. There are over 400 Sherlock Holmes societies around the world and thousands of articles and books have been written about the Sherlock Holmes canon.

The Performing Arts

Acting: Choices and Listening
Presented By: Ed Scutt

Acting is about choices: what the actors do with their body, face and voice. Acting is reacting; some of the most impressive and important acting is done when the actors are not the focus in the scene or don't have lines to speak. When they do become the focus, it must be in genuine response to what the others in the scene have said and done. How does all this happen? This talk will attempt to give a better understanding of that process.

Good Golly! It's Bolly! (The Film Industries of India)
Presented By: Nita Genova

Bollywood films are a unique entertainment experience. On a continent with 1.2 billion people, every movie affords escapism on every level from romance, action-adventure, comedy and tragedy – a classic "masala" of genres, sets and emotions with enough plot twists to keep an audience in their seats for about three hours. But Bollywood [films originating in Mumbai (Bombay) and the most commercially successful] is just one of the eleven separate film industries of India which generates over a 1000 movies each year. If you would like an overview of all the separate industries; or if you would like a to show a specific movie with an overview of the actors and background on the movie; or if you would like a topic such as female Indian directors, Nita has a larger repertoire of Indian movies and a host of Power Point presentations to compliment the movies. All movies are subtitled in English and showing a complete movie usually takes two two-hour sessions to complete.

Various Movie Programs
Presented By: Mary Ann Satter

Mary Ann has many programs available including: Film Noir, Female Directors, Politics in Movies, and is willing to design and adapt the many other topics she has presented to your needs. 

Science

Biomimicry - Designing Naturally
Presented By: Bob Vukosic

Biomimicry is an emerging discipline based on the logic that we can look to nature for ideas on how to design better products and processes. Nature's laboratory of evolution boasts 3.8 billion years of experience, during which the best ideas have persisted and mistakes have been eliminated. This talk will present some principles of biomimicry, suggest methods for advancing the field, and share a wide variety of actual case studies.

Concepts in Medical Ethics
Presented By: Victor A. Poleshuck

Medical practice, research, and public policy around medical issues are fraught with moral choices that result in ethical conflicts. The ethical concepts of autonomy, beneficence, paternalism, nonmaleficence and justice will be defined. Examples of dilemmas in physician-patient relations, patient autonomy, reproductive medicine (including abortion, pregnancy and assisted reproduction), end-of-life issues, organ donation, genetics and stem-cell research will be introduced, and a framework for ethical decision-making will be offered.

Downton Abbey and Neurology
Presented By: Gerald Honch

Downton Abbey is an enormously popular Masterpiece Theater program offered on WXXI. This past season was its third year. The story line includes several episodes where a neurologic illness plays a large part. These include: sudden death during intercourse, post-traumatic stress disorder, amnesia, foreign accent syndrome, spinal cord injury with paralysis and recovery, paralysis of an arm, and eclamptic seizures. These neurologic problems are discussed in the context of the story line, the accuracy of their depiction and modern interpretation. This is a 90-minute PowerPoint presentation with time for questions.

Genetic Engineering: A Step Forward or Frankenfoods?
Presented By: Bob Vukosic

GM food is used to refer to any product that gets some of its content from an organism that has been genetically modified.  Some scientists believe that this technology is the answer to many of the world's food issues.  Others are of the belief that Frankenfoods are detrimental to the human body and will do more harm than good.  In this presentation we will explore these views and other aspects of genetic engineering as it impacts are daily lives.

Geography Matters
Presented By: Tim McDonnell

Geography is much more than memorizing the names of continents and reciting facts about South America. To understand the problems faced by our country and the world, one needs to be a geographically aware person. In this talk we will discuss how the physical and the human landscapes impact conflicts around the world.

It's All In Your Head - Neuroplasticity
Presented By: Bob Vukosic

Neuroplasticity is a new science that investigates whether and how the brain can undergo wholesale change, reveal that the brain is capable not only of altering its structure but also of generating new neurons, even into old age. This presentation discusses these neuroplasticity facts in a fascinating and far-reaching book, Train Your Mind – Change Your Brain by Wall Street Journal science writer Sharon Begley.

John Bartram: Early American Botanist, Horticulturist, and Explorer
Presented By: Gerald Honch

OK, maybe you don't know about him. He was America's First Botanist. Truly a unique individual who is largely unknown to most Americans. A self-educated wonder, a true hero to America's plant life, and much much more. He knew and drew the respect of Franklin, Washington, Jefferson; a "who's who" off the famous and influential in this country as well as Europe.

Nanotechnology In Your Life
Presented By: Bob Vukosic

Nanoscale materials are used in electronic, magnetic and optoelectronic, biomedical, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, energy, catalytic and materials applications.  Some current applications include: Sunscreens, car waxes, gear coatings, wrinkle resistant clothing, stain resistant cloth, catalytic converters, thermal spray powders, jumbotron screens, high efficiency air filters, anti-ballistic materials, printer toner components, medical image enhancing.  In plain language we will demystify this awesome technology.

Neanderthals Were Ignorant Proto-Humans... Or Were They?
Presented By: Bob Vukosic

The common wisdom has been that Neanderthals were a separate species from modern humans, and became extinct because of climate change and competition with modern humans moving into their habitat between 45,000 and 40,000 years ago. We will discuss how research evidence shows that Neanderthals were more advanced than previously known, in language skills, weapon making, & immune responses to disease, etc., as well as how their genetic traits may be affecting us today.

Some Of My Best Friends Are Germs
Presented By: Bob Vukosic

Come and find out why some of your best friends may be germs, too!  We will explore the complex ecosystem called the human microbiome that makes up your body. Bacterial cells in the human body outnumber human cells 10 to 1!  It appears increasingly likely that this "second genome," as it is sometimes called, exerts an influence on our health as great and possibly even greater than the genes we inherit from our parents

The Power to Divide - Stem Cell Research
Presented By: Bob Vukosic

This presentation discusses the basic relevant science of stem cell research.  In addition, the various ethical and regulation issues also are covered as well as the political and economic implications. 

The Robots are Taking Over
Presented By: Bob Vukosic

Robots are taking over and we will learn why this is a good thing.  You will probably be surprised at how pervasive robotic systems are in our life.  They are not only in industrial use, but also can be found in our homes, in telecommunications, space exploration, military applications, and even health care.  With short video clips we will explore fascinating robotic systems that are currently in use and some that are planned for the future.

The Science of Global Warming and its Solutions
Presented By: Beth Vanfossen

This talk presents the basic science behind the world's current global warming and how we know what we know. Designed for those who are aware of global warming but don't know the details, it touches on the history of Earth's temperature, symptoms and consequences of the Earth's warming, how greenhouse effects work, and its likely causes. It outlines possible actions that can be taken to slow down the warming.

US Government: Yes, We Scan
Presented By: Bob Vukosic
  • Why does the NSA collect foreign intelligence?
  • What have we been told?
  • What is actually happening?
  • How is intelligence data collected?
  • Where is intelligence data collected?
  • How accurate is the info on NSA operations?
  • What are the pros and cons of collecting intelligence?

The PBS Documentary Frontline: The United States of Secrecy will be used to get an overview our government's current intelligence collection practices. We will discuss how these could impact our lives. NOTE: this topic requires a time slot of 1 hr 30 min since film is 53 minutes.

Politics

Concepts in Medical Ethics
Presented By: Victor A. Poleshuck

Medical practice, research, and public policy around medical issues are fraught with moral choices that result in ethical conflicts. The ethical concepts of autonomy, beneficence, paternalism, nonmaleficence and justice will be defined. Examples of dilemmas in physician-patient relations, patient autonomy, reproductive medicine (including abortion, pregnancy and assisted reproduction), end-of-life issues, organ donation, genetics and stem-cell research will be introduced, and a framework for ethical decision-making will be offered.

Genetic Engineering: A Step Forward or Frankenfoods?
Presented By: Bob Vukosic

GM food is used to refer to any product that gets some of its content from an organism that has been genetically modified.  Some scientists believe that this technology is the answer to many of the world's food issues.  Others are of the belief that Frankenfoods are detrimental to the human body and will do more harm than good.  In this presentation we will explore these views and other aspects of genetic engineering as it impacts are daily lives.

Government

US Government: Yes, We Scan
Presented By: Bob Vukosic
  • Why does the NSA collect foreign intelligence?
  • What have we been told?
  • What is actually happening?
  • How is intelligence data collected?
  • Where is intelligence data collected?
  • How accurate is the info on NSA operations?
  • What are the pros and cons of collecting intelligence?

The PBS Documentary Frontline: The United States of Secrecy will be used to get an overview our government's current intelligence collection practices. We will discuss how these could impact our lives. NOTE: this topic requires a time slot of 1 hr 30 min since film is 53 minutes.

Osher Speakers Bureau Presenters

Mary Ann Satter

Mary Ann is a retired English teacher, and to quote her, "I have loved film since seeing I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang on television one afternoon in 1961 and realized that movies change the world."

Neil Frankel

Neil Frankel was manager of engineering organizations and research labs at Xerox for 30 years prior to retirement.  Now he has more time to read great literature, study history and participate in the Osher School at RIT. He has published a website on the Atlantic slave trade, and is currently writing a book about the slave years in America.

Nita Genova

What began as pure fascination with an eye-catching backdrop to an Indian meal has become Nita Genova's journey in trying to understand a rich, diverse culture through India's regional film industries. Nita does extensive reading and research to present a view of a country she herself has never visited and she has been leading the course "Good Golly! It's Bolly!" at Osher Life-Long Learning Institute since January, 2011. While Nita has a M.A. in Audiology from SUNY Geneseo and has been active in both school and community organizations, she has had the good fortune to be a "stay-at-home" mom to Francesca and Alexandra and wife to Dominic.

Marilyn Gillespie

Marilyn Gillespie is a self-educated artist. She has exhibited widely in the area and was selected to show in the Finger Lakes Exhibit three times. At the invitation of the Memorial Art Gallery, her seventy-two unique sculptures of women's shoes through the ages were featured for ten months under the title Fabulous Footwear.

Gerald Honch

Gerald Honch is a retired neurologist who had a career teaching and practicing clinical neurology with appointments to the faculty of the U of R and Rochester General Hospital.

Tom Lathrop

Tom Lathrop is a retired software engineer who has taught several history courses at Osher.

Tim McDonnell

Tim McDonnell is a retired teacher and a board member of the NY Geographic Alliance and its newsletter editor. He has received awards for his lessons from the National Council of Geographic Educators.

Lewis Neisner

Lewis Neisner is a retired marketing professor. He has had a lifelong interest in and love of Sherlock Holmes. While living in Maryland he was a member of The Six Napoleons of Baltimore and served as its Gasogene (president) for two years. At Osher he has led about 15 Sherlock Holmes courses.  He is founder of Rochester Row, a Sherlockian society in Rochester.

James Nofziger

During my junior year at Columbia College I read Jack Kerouac. Stirred by On the Road I determined to have my own adventures, on the road to Tierra del Fuego. My art and Mesoamerican studies are products of that expedition. After these travels I finished my studies, settled in Rochester and worked to improve access to education and health care. Recently I obtained the Lifespan/St John Fisher Gerontology certificate. Mostly I enjoy life on the Erie Canal where I focus on family and wood carving and follow my interests in cycling, paddling, hiking, current events, history, music and nature.

Flo Paxson

Flo Paxson is retired public relations professional who is a certified New York State mediator at the Center for Dispute Settlement. She serves as a volunteer mediator and has successfully mediated a number of disputes. She is a board member at the Center for Dispute Settlement and former Media Chair at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at RIT.

Victor A. Poleshuck

Victor A. Poleshuck, M.D., is Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Emeritus at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. He has taught medical ethics and has served as Chair of the Ethics Committee and the Ethics Consultation Service at Rochester General Hospital.

Carol Samuel

Carol Samuel is an obstetrical nurse and prenatal educator, mostly retired. Her occasional childhood enjoyment of merry-go-rounds has developed into an abiding adult interest in antique, wooden carousels. As a member of the former Friends of the Rochester Carousels and as a current member of the National Carousel Association, Carol takes every opportunity to visit historic carousels locally and during travels around the country.

Ed Scutt

Ed Scutt is a retired high school teacher who has been active in theatre his whole adult life. He is an award-winning actor and playwright as well as a director and a TANYS (Theatre Association of New York State) adjudicator. In the summer of 2009 he took advanced adjudicator training at the AACT (American Association of Community Theatre) Festival in Tacoma Washington.

Beth Vanfossen

Beth Vanfossen is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at SUNY Brockport where she taught for fifteen years. Fascinated with the controversy over global warming, she has led three classes at Osher on the science and solutions of global warming.

Bob Vukosic

Bob lives in Pittsford. He has 5 children – 3 girls and two boys. All the children are married and they and their families reside in the Rochester area. (Victor, Avon, Fairport, Chili, and Brighton).  Bob has 6 granddaughters and one grandson ranging in age from 8 to 29 years old and 2 great grandchildren.

Bob grew up along the Allegany River in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.  As an 8 year old, he wondered why the heavily load steel barges were able to float.  This was just the first of thousands of technical questions that Bob would pursue throughout his life.  In grammar school and high school he loved his courses in science and he went on to study engineering at Case-Western Reserve University where he earned both a BS and a MS in mechanical engineering.

Most of Bob's professional engineering career involved the application of new technologies to the development, design and manufacturing of complex business and professional products.  Bob continues to enjoy acquiring knowledge regarding science and technology and the history relating to them and sharing this with others.