Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy


Left to right: Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, Dick Thornburgh, Stephen Zimmermann, Ron Brand


By Ed McCord


The University Honors College collaborates throughout the year with the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy in a variety of programs to foster public enlightenment and personal initiative for effective and principled governance. It is a cause that is reflected throughout Dick Thornburgh’s exceptional life of service to state, national, and international missions. Among the programs brought to campus are several lecture series featuring leaders from many walks of life whose careers are helping to clarify and advance the public interest.

On November 6, with co-sponsorship from the School of Law and the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and support from the Honors College, the Thornburgh Family Lectures in Disability Law and Policy hosted a presentation by Joyce Bender, the immediate past-chair of the board of the American Association of People with Disabilities. Ms. Bender is President and CEO of the national firm, Business Consulting Service, Inc. As a progressive businesswoman, she has been recognized by two U.S. Presidents for her leadership in promoting the recruitment and hiring people with disabilities. Her lecture was entitled, “Competitive Employment: The Last Frontier—Our Journey of Removing Barriers and Overcoming Stigma,” and she traced the obstacles that have prevented Americans with disabilities from gaining competitive employment and the challenges up through present federal law in reforming the system.

Every year the Honors College and the Thornburgh Forum jointly sponsor the “American Experience Distinguished Lecture Series,” one of the oldest and most prominent programs of its kind in Pittsburgh. The American Experience Lectures bring to campus speakers of the highest stature across the major sectors of civic engagement. On January 15, the series will sponsor a visit by best-selling author Laurence Leamer, who will talk about the historical context of his nonfiction thriller, “The Price of Justice.” This acclaimed work, published in 2013, is the story of two Pittsburgh attorneys whose diligent representation persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a West Virginia case that was tainted by favoritism for a judicial campaign contributor. A panel of judicial luminaries following Mr. Leamer’s opening talk will discuss the prospects for establishing merit selection of judges in the states.

Awareness of these successes in staging the public interest for programming, and the many other opportunities for local, regional, and national leaders to enrich the campus dialogue, has led the Thornburgh Forum now to expand its portfolio with a new speaker program entitled, “Discussions on Governance.” The inaugural lecture on September 24 featured Stephen Zimmermann, Director of Operations for the World Bank's Integrity Vice-Presidency. Mr. Zimmermann captivated an audience of more than 100 on the topic, “A Quixotic Pursuit of Zero Tolerance for Corruption: Must we choose between fighting poverty or corruption?" Explaining the challenges facing the World Bank in simultaneously tackling corruption while pursuing an aggressive development agenda, he described by illustration a corruption investigation in Asia that led the Bank to withdraw financing from a major infrastructure project. It was a riveting presentation and discussion.

Collaborators in the lecture, in addition to the Honors College, included the Center for International Legal Education in the School of Law, the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, the College of Business Administration, the University Center for International Studies, the Global Studies Center, and the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

For details about all of the programs on which the Honors College and Dick Thornburgh Forum are working together, please see the Thornburgh Forum website.