Office of the Provost

Wilson Hall, Suite 3000
371 Wilson Boulevard
Rochester, MI 48309-4486
(location map)
(248) 370-2190

Sophia A. Nelson, Esquire posing for a photo outside.

Varner Vitality Lecture Series

The Varner Vitality Lecture Series is named in honor of Oakland’s first chancellor, Durward “Woody” Varner. The series aims to energize and sustain the highest academic and scholarly aspirations of the University community. This lecture is sponsored by the Division of Academic Affairs. Previous speakers include Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, former president of India; Dr. Madeleine Albright, the first female U.S. Secretary of State; Dr. Jane Goodall, world-renowned primatologist; Bill Nye, scientist, author and TV host; Doris Kearns Goodwin, presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author; and most recently, Lech Walesa, former President of Poland. The event is free and open to the public.  For more information on the series, please call (248) 370-2190.

Varner Vitality Lecture Series
Sophia A. Nelson, Esq.
April 1, 2024
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Oakland Center – Founders Ballroom
Book-signing to follow

Event Registration

About the Speaker

Sophia A. Nelson, Esquire is an award-winning author, award-winning journalist, and renowned international inspirational speaker. Nelson is a national columnist for several major outlets including, The Washington Post, Politico Magazine and CNN OPINION. You can see Nelson regularly on CNN as a legal and political analyst, as well as other national outlets like Morning Joe, The Today Show and NPR. Nelson is an award-winning Diversity, Equity and Inclusion thought leader, EIQ curator, as well as corporate leadership and human resources trainer. She has worked with the Fortune 25, Fortune 50 and Fortune 100 companies and every major platform around diversity and workplace wellness in the world. Nelson is the author of four best-selling nonfiction books: Black Woman Redefined, The Woman Code, ePluribus One and her newest release in June 2022, Be the One You Need: 21 Life Lessons I Learned While Taking Care of Everyone But Me.

Past Speakers
2003J. Craig Venter
2006Susan Love
2008Madeline Albright
2009A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
2011Thomas Friedman
2012Steven Pinker
2013Jane Goodall
2014Daniel J. Levitin
2015Morten Lauridsen
2016Bill Nye
2017Doris Kearns Goodwin
2019Alan Weisman
2019Lech Walesa