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March 18, 2010
Parker J. Palmer to Speak at Wendt Center for Character Education Spring Lecture

Writer, speaker, and activist Parker J. Palmer will serve as the keynote speaker for the University of Dubuque Lester and Michael Lester Wendt Center for Character Education's fifth annual Wendt Lecture on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. in the McCormick Gymnasium. A book signing will follow his remarks.

The theme of the 2010 lecture is The Future of Democracy: Renewing America from the Bottom Up. The event is free and open to the public.

Parker J. Palmer is founder and senior partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal. He serves as senior advisor to the Fetzer Institute and previously served as senior associate of the American Association of Higher Education. His seven books include A Hidden Wholeness , Let Your Life Speak , The Courage to Teach , The Active Life , To Know as We Are Known , The Company of Strangers and The Promise of Paradox.

He holds the Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley, as well as ten honorary doctorates, two Distinguished Achievement Awards from the National Educational Press Association, an Award of Excellence from the Associated Church Press, and major grants from the Danforth and Fetzer foundations as well as the Lilly Endowment. In 1998, the Leadership Project, a national survey of 10,000 educators, named him one of the thirty most influential senior leaders in higher education and one of the ten key agenda-setters of the past decade. Living the Questions: Essays Inspired by the Work and Life of Parker J. Palmer , was published in 2005. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and is working on a new book about democracy, citizenship and the inner life.

"Parker Palmer has thought deeply and written extensively on the general topic of character or habits of the heart," stated Henry Pitman, director of the Wendt Center. "He has much to offer us and we expect to be enriched by his visit to the University of Dubuque campus."

During his time on campus, Palmer will explore the need for character or "habits of the heart" as a prerequisite for creating a civic community. Without this he argues that the society drifts away from the kind of citizenship needed for a healthy democracy into the kind of circumstances America faces today. Out of individualism, consumerism, etc., the U.S. government is a corporate oligarchy with unaccountable power rather than having any semblance of government by we the people.' Palmer's challenge to all in attendance is to pick up their responsibility as citizens and re-engage in creating civic community in local schools, colleges, and churches.

The Wendt Character Initiative was established in 2004 at the University of Dubuque by the endowed Lester and Michael Lester Wendt Character Initiative Fund. The Initiative operates under the care of the Wendt Center for Character Education. This Initiative promotes a campus culture that nurtures the formation of excellent moral character, and that encourages all members of the community to live lives of purpose. The work of the Wendt Character Initiative is centered in the University's Mission and values, a commitment to its Reformed Christian identity, and a sense of creative vocation in faithful response to the Creator. This Initiative is part of the total educational experience of all University of Dubuque students through curricular and co-curricular programs. Faculty and staff also participate in the Initiative through special programs during the school year.