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Celebrating Arts and Ideas at Aurora University

Aurora University President Rebecca Sherrick, a longtime champion of the arts, created Celebrating Arts and Ideas to bring well-known speakers and entertainers to the campus. Arts and Ideas premiered in 2006 with 200 people attending a lecture by Barbara Ehrenreich, political activist and American author of Nickel and Dimed, and has grown to become a thriving environment for cultural enrichment in the Fox River Valley with more than 8,000 people visiting the campus for the 2015-2016 series of main stage lectures and musical performances, art exhibits and student productions.


This intellectual and artistic journey is offered as a public service to the community, but has garnered the support of corporations, foundations and individuals. The university feels that the caliber of speakers sponsored by Dunham Fund has been the primary impetus for the increased public financial support of the series.

Contributions to Aurora University's Celebrating Arts and Ideas series have increased from $37,500 in 2006 to more than $130,000 in 2016. Donors have increased from eight in 2006 to more than 161 in 2016.

Dunham Fund became a $25,000 Presenting Sponsor for Neil deGrasse Tyson during the 2013-2014 season. Daniel Pink and David McCullough sponsorships followed in the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons, respectively. These events were the key main stage events for Arts and Ideas and were all “sold out.”

The university began surveying the Arts and Ideas audiences during the 2014-2015 series for reviews of the presentations. Daniel Pink’s presentation received an excellent rating and was well received by attendees at Aurora University. Here is some of the positive audience feedback:

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Read more about these popular lectures:

Neil deGrasse Tyson Director of Hayden Planetarium

Neil deGrasse Tyson is Director of the Hayden Planetarium, host of the TV miniseries, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, and author of a number of New York Times best-selling books. To accommodate the community’s overwhelming interest in the lecture, Tyson’s presentation was live-streamed from AU’s Crimi Auditorium to Perry Theatre where both venues were filled to capacity with 685 in attendance.

The Tyson lecture was strategically chosen by the Dunham Fund to serve as a prelude to the opening of the university’s John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School. Lecture attendees later emailed the university to say that Tyson “was wonderful” and that “he made science fun.”

Daniel Pink Best Selling Author

Daniel Pink was named one of the Top 10 business thinkers in the world in 2015 and is the author of several New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books that focus on the “changing workplace” and reshaping how organizations approach innovation, motivation and talent. Former chief speechwriter to Vice President Al Gore, he is now host and co-executive producer of Crowd Control, a television series about human behavior on the National Geographic Channel.

David McCullough Pulitzer Prize Winner

David McCullough provided insight into the research and writing of his book The Wright Brothers, a #1 New York Times Bestseller. McCullough has been widely acclaimed as a “master of the art of narrative history.” He is twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award and has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.

Dunham Fund is proud to be a sponsor of Celebrating Arts and Ideas and is pleased to announce its Presenting Sponsorship for the Thomas Friedman lecture on October 18, 2016 for the 2016-2017 Series.