This year’s Meliora Weekend came to a close with a visit from Ted Turner, founder of CNN and Vice-Chairman of AOL-Time Warner. The speech was held at noon on Sunday in the Palestra.
Audience turnout was high, with most of the seats in the Palestra filled. The majority of the crowd consisted of parents and faculty rather than students.
In the opening of the speech, Turner addressed the ideas of good and bad leadership, giving basic examples of each.
Adolf Hitler was presented as the epitome of bad leadership. “[Hitler] led a Christian, well educated society and turned them into a people that was trying to exterminate a whole other people,” Turner said.
This example was contrasted with non-violent leaders such as Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I like the good leaders better than the bad ones,” he said.
Turner, who is known for his philanthropic donations ? including a $1 billion donation to the United Nations in 1997 ? discussed the idea of service to the community in a chat session with Dean of The College William Green. “[The United Nations] is a place where humanity can let off steam,” Turner said.
Turner talked about his roots in business, and how they “got mixed up with do-goodiness.”
“I did everything [in my business career] to make people’s lives a little better,” he said.
Turner also suggested that private industry could, through philanthropic action, help fill in the gaps that government left.
He touched upon the issue of solidarity, as well, giving an example of this ? if everyone in the audience were to have left their seats and marched downtown together to protest nuclear weapons, others would have joined in, and the government would have taken notice.
“It’s going to take all of us working our butts off to save humanity,” Turner said.
At the end of the event, UR President Thomas Jackson presented Turner with the George Eastman Medal.
“Like George Eastman, you have changed the world,” Jackson said as he presented the award.
Reactions to his speech were mixed. Because he failed to prepare a speech beforehand, he did not visibly read from anything during either his speech or the question and answer session with Green afterwards.
Many thought his lack of preparation caused him to stray too much, and referred to it as “rambling.”
Others liked his impromptu style. “It wasn’t like what you’d expect from a traditional speaker,” senior Alex Naron said. “It’s great to have somebody talk without any planning.”
Additional reporting by Cyrus Levesque and Aaron Severs.
Brown can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.