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Peck and Lancaster to Deliver Clarkson University Convocation Lecture August 29

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Stephen Peck and John Lancaster will deliver the Van Sickle Endowed Lecture as Clarkson University celebrates the start of the 2011-2012 academic year with a convocation on Monday, August 29, at 7 p.m. in Cheel Arena.

John Lancaster (left) and Stephen PeckPeck is the president and CEO of the United States Veterans Initiative and the son of the late actor Gregory Peck.

Lancaster, a resident of Potsdam, N.Y., is a civil rights attorney and disabilities rights advocate and retired executive director of the National Council on Independent Living.

Peck and Lancaster's presentation will focus on the themes expressed in Tim O’Brien’s award-winning Vietnam testament The Things They Carried. The book was the 2011 summer reading selection for incoming first-year students at Clarkson University.

This event is free and open to the public.

Peck was appointed president/CEO of the United States Veterans Initiative (U.S.VETS) in 2010. He joined U.S.VETS in 1996 to start its largest site where he was the inaugural site director. U.S.VETS – Long Beach (Calif.) grew to house 550 veterans and is the largest residential veterans program in the country. He also helped start the U.S.VETS program in Riverside, Calif. He has initiated several special needs programs for the agency, including the non-custodial father’s program, the ADVANCE women’s program, and the veterans re-entry project for returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Along with his work on program design and funding, Peck develops community partnerships, and advocates on a state and national level to bring attention to possible solutions for homeless veterans. He was a Marine Corps lieutenant in Vietnam, serving with the 1st Marine Division near Danang. He received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and his master's degree in social work from the University of Southern California in 1997.

Lancaster has been a civil rights attorney and disabilities rights advocate since 1974. He has served on committees and within organizations such as the National Council on Independent Living, a group which represent grassroots disability organizations run by and for people with disabilities, and Handicap International Federation, an organization that works to improve the rights and conditions of people living in disabling situations in post-conflict, post-disaster and low-income countries around the world. He has also worked within government offices toward the same goals, including serving within President Clinton’s administration in the formulation of disability employment policy as the President’s Committee’s executive director.

As a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, Lancaster commanded an infantry platoon in combat during the Vietnam War earning a Purple Heart and Bronze Star in 1968. Following military service, he returned to the University of Notre Dame for a law degree. He received an honorary doctor of science degree from Clarkson this past spring and was recently nominated by President Barack Obama for the board of directors of the United States Institute of Peace. Confirmation of his nomination is pending in the United States Senate.

Peck and Lancaster’s discussion will be moderated by Clarkson Humanities Professor Joseph Duemer. Duemer was a Fulbright Research Fellow in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2000-2001.

The opening convocation is a ceremony where all members of the academic community come together to usher in the new academic year. It is also an opportunity to welcome our newest students to the campus and initiate their connection to Clarkson’s traditions and the various constituencies of our community.

The Kenneth J. and Irla Van Sickle Endowed Lectureship was established in 1992 through generous bequests from the estates of Kenneth and Irla Van Sickle of Shortsville, N.Y. The Van Sickles shared interests in photography, gardening, nature and stamp collecting. During their long and active lives, the Van Sickles were dedicated to hard work, placing great value on education, particularly higher education.

For more information, please contact Christina Lesyk, director of university events, at 315-268-6425.
Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: John Lancaster (left) and Stephen Peck will deliver the Van Sickle Endowed Lecture as Clarkson University celebrates the start of the 2011-2012 academic year with a convocation on Monday, August 29, at 7 p.m. in Cheel Arena.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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