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#174 Ten Years of the Todd Lecture Series

Jeff Dobbin 200 Things about Norwich, This Week in History

President Emeritus Major General W. Russell Todd ‘50 made a deep impact on Norwich during his time as president. His late wife, known affectionately as Carol, was also a beloved and influential figure during his tenure from 1982 to 1992. Her many contributions include the founding of the Peace Corps Preparatory Program, which became a model for similar programs at colleges and universities throughout the country.

In 2008, the Todds’ daughter, Ellen Drew, and son-in-law, John Drew, ensured that their legacy would continue enhancing the learning environment at Norwich for years to come. Through a generous gift from the Drew Foundation, the Todd Lecture Series was born.

Beginning in 2008, the Todd Lecture Series has brought provocative and surprising speakers to campus. With a single guest in the fall and a series of lectures in the spring—each selected and hosted by an academic college—the series annually covers a variety of themes while remaining free and open to the public and the students, faculty, and staff.

Dean Kamen

The first Todd Lecture was held 10 years ago this fall, on November 18, 2008. The speaker was Dean Kamen, a renowned inventor, entrepreneur, and advocate for science and technology.  Kamen spent 90 minutes sharing his idea and passions with an audience of 1,100 Norwich students and Central Vermont residents. Kamen is widely known for inventing the Segway Human Transporter, but is most proud of his accomplishments in medical research and development. In his inaugural Todd Lecture, he shared his recent water purification project designed to bring clean drinking water to an estimated 1.1 billion people.

Since then, the Todd Lecture Series has featured generals, MacArthur Fellows, CEOs, economists, engineers, and no fewer than three former secretaries of state. These diverse speakers bring new perspectives and challenging ideas to the Norwich community. Since 2012, the talks and panels have been recorded and are available to watch on the Todd Lecture Series website.

Sam Kass

This fall, the 10th anniversary series kicks off on October 29 with Sam Kass, a former White House policy advisor for nutrition, who will give a talk titled “Eat a Little Better: Great Flavor, Good Health, Better World.” The keynote lecture will be streamed live at as part of a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) symposium on “Health & Humans: Shaping the Environment, Treating Disease, and Changing Culture through Science, Technology, and Communications.”

The Todds made for an indelible presence at each lecture, seated down front, with Mrs. Todd’s striking white hair a standout feature. Shortly after Carol Todd’s death in December 2015, then-editor of the Norwich Record, Diana Weggler, wrote of her, “Carol’s legacy of service to Norwich lives on in perpetuity—in the Kreitzberg Library, in the Center for Civic Engagement, in the Sullivan Museum, in the Todd Lecture Series, and in the countless programs, organizations, and initiatives she guided and supported.”