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Salem State Series to Feature Iconic Major League Baseball Player David Ortiz and International Human Rights Lawyer Amal Clooney

In its 40th year, the Series is set to return to in-person events, with proceeds providing the university vital unrestricted support.

Iconic Major League Baseball Player David Ortiz (“Big Papi”) and International Human Rights Lawyer Amal Clooney are slated to visit Salem State University in the spring and fall of this year, respectively. The visits come as the Salem State University Foundation, Inc., celebrates the 40th anniversary of its popular speaker series and plans a return to in-person events after switching to a virtual format in early 2020 amid the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ortiz is scheduled to visit Salem State on May 4, 2022, for a conversation about the skills needed to succeed, leadership and giving back. Clooney’s Salem State visit will be held on September 20, 2022, and will include a discussion about her work as an international human rights lawyer.

Both events will be held in Salem State University’s O’Keefe Complex, with the May 4 Series taking place in the Rockett Arena and the September 20 Series in the Twohig Gymnasium. Both events begin at 7:30 pm with doors opening at 6:30 pm.

Starting at 10 am on March 29, tickets to the spring and fall 2022 Salem State Series may be purchased through the Series website at or by calling 978.542.7555. Price categories are as follows:

  • Premium (Entered to win dinner and photo with speaker)
    • Subscription to both events: $250, a savings of $50
    • Individual event: $150
  • Reserved
    • Subscription: $160
    • Individual event: $80          
  • General Admission
    • In-person: $40
    • Virtual: $25
  • Salem State Student: $10

Ortiz’s May 4 visit is the final event of the university’s annual day of giving, Viking Warrior Day, which is now in its fifth year. Proceeds from the Series and from Viking Warrior Day will benefit the Salem State Annual Fund, providing vital unrestricted support to the university.

“The 40th anniversary of the Salem State Series seeks to bring the public closer to the Foundation’s mission and to further support our smart, driven and hardworking students that advance the region’s cultural, social and economic development and vitality,” said Cheryl Crounse, vice president of advancement and executive director of the Salem State University Foundation, Inc. “The university has a long-standing commitment to meaningful engagement, so we’re leveraging the anniversary of the Series as an integral part of Viking Warrior Day—Salem State University’s annual celebration of giving back. This is a chance for us to transform lives by building on the opportunities that Salem State University offers.”

An honorary committee was created to recognize the 40th anniversary of the Series, led by Salem State alumni Henry Dembowski ’60, ’62G and Cynthia McGurren ’83, Series co-founder and former vice president of institutional advancement at Salem State.

Launched by the Salem State Foundation in 1982, the Salem State Series has brought leading voices from across the globe to address the residents of the North Shore and beyond. Among the 100 prior guests are U.S. presidents George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford; former Secretary of State Colin Powell; renowned poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou; Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto; writer and activist Gloria Steinem; former General Electric Chairman and son of Salem Jack Welch; football legend Tom Brady; award-winning singer-songwriter John Legend, and founder and chief strategist of Partners in Health Paul Farmer. View a full list of past Series speakers.

David “Big Papi” Ortiz is a former professional baseball designated hitter for the Boston Red Sox. Over the duration of his career, he was named an All-Star 10 times, won seven AL Silver Slugger awards, joined the exclusive 500 Home Run Club, and helped bring Boston three World Series Championships in 2004, 2007 and 2013. Ortiz announced his retirement on his 40th birthday, deciding to play one last season in 2016. Throughout his final season, it came into focus just how much Ortiz meant to not only Boston and the Red Sox, but to the game of baseball in general. In what would typically be seen as unprecedented, he was frequently honored and celebrated at visiting ballparks for his career accomplishments. To reflect this, he received the AL Hank Aaron Award Winner for the second time in his career, an award to honor the best hitter in each league throughout the season. On June 23, 2017, Ortiz returned to Fenway Park to become the 10th player in team history to have their jersey retired. His iconic #34 will forever hang in Fenway and his legacy always remembered in Boston and beyond. Read Ortiz’s full biography at

Amal Clooney is an award-winning lawyer specializing in international law and human rights and visiting professor at Columbia Law School. Described as a “brilliant legal mind,” Clooney frequently represents victims of mass atrocities, including genocide and sexual violence. She has acted in many precedent-setting human rights cases in recent years, including the world’s first trial against an ISIS member for genocide and the first case alleging complicity in crimes against humanity by a company that funded the terror group. She has represented Armenia in a case involving the Armenian genocide and was recently counsel to 126 victims of the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, at the International Criminal Court. In 2021, she was appointed special adviser to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Darfur. Clooney also represents political prisoners around the world and has helped to secure the freedom of journalists arbitrarily detained for their work across the globe. In 2020, Clooney was the recipient of the Gwen Ifill Award for ‘extraordinary and sustained achievement in the cause of press freedom’ from the Committee to Protect Journalists. Read Clooney’s full biography at

“These speakers exemplify the types of discussions the Series has provided over the past 40 years,” said Crounse. “They present opportunities for us to learn and grow together as a greater community, which is an extension of our university’s public education mission.”


Media seats are limited. Please contact Nicole Giambusso at Video and photography are not permitted inside the arena/gym, but photos and footage for media use can be shared following the event.

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