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The 40th Anniversary of the Salem State Series

Having an impact, one speaker at a time

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Salem State University Foundation, Inc.’s popular annual speaker series, the Salem State Series.

“In 1982, when I was a student intern, President Amsler wanted to have a community enrichment program so that people on the North Shore could see people of note,” says Cynthia McGurren ’83, former vice president and former executive director of the Salem State Foundation and Salem State Series co-founder. 

Among the leading voices who’ve graced the Series stage with their unique perspectives include four former presidents, Maya Angelou, Desmond Tutu, Gloria Steinem, Paul Farmer, Christopher Reeve, Jane Goodall, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Jay Leno, Tom Brady, and John Legend, among many other influential figures.

Shawn Newton ’96, dean of students, recalls, “These are people that you saw on the news that were impacting the world as we know it. Then when they come to campus, they would treat you as if they were your neighbor, and friend, in some cases.”

The Salem State Series is made possible because of the Salem State University Foundation, Inc., and the generous support of its sponsors, who ensure the foundation can continue to welcome industry and thought leaders to campus, bringing our greater community closer to the university’s mission. 

“We are an institution that is open to everyone. That inclusivity extends beyond just the classroom, and events like the Series allow our community members to really engage with what’s happening on our campus,” says Debra Lee Surface ’05, ’19G, president of the Salem State Alumni Association and Salem State Series sponsor.

As it has done throughout its history, the Series will continue to raise awareness of the university’s important work, highlighting our position as the region’s leading educational resource and gateway to affordable higher education—one that serves as a powerful force for upward mobility.

“For the next 40 years, I hope that we can continue to open our minds, continue to engage and continue to bring dynamic speakers to campus,” says Debra Lee.

Alumni Relations
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