UNT Kuehne Speaker Series creates $1.25M sustainable fund

Margarita Venegas

Donors have committed more than $1.25 million to create a sustainable fund for the UNT Kuehne Speaker Series, one of UNT's signature events in Dallas. The UNT Kuehne Speaker Series was established in 2013 to provide a forum to engage in conversation about topics of national and global relevance. A steering committee was formed in January 2015 to guide and accelerate the growth of the series. The committee initiated the idea of creating a sustainable fund to ensure sustainability.

The UNT Kuehne Speaker Series began as a vision of UNT alumnus and philanthropist, Ernie Kuehne, as a way to bring relevant speakers to Dallas on behalf of UNT. Kuehne provided $300,000 in seed money to launch the series in the fall of 2013. In addition to Ernie Kuehne, other supporters include: Scott Belshaw, Steve Holmes, Thomas "Denny" Iker, Don Lovelace, Jim McNatt, Bryan Milner, Michael Montgomery, Ken Newman, Stephen "Duffy" Oyster, G. Brint Ryan, Michael Seay, C. Dan Smith, Robert Trachta, and Jerome "Bruzzy" Westheimer.

"Although we have been successful in our initial efforts to build this fund to its current level, we need to continue to grow the fund by securing additional support," Kuehne says.

The series' most recent speaker Richard Fisher, immediate past president and CEO of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, spoke on November 10, 2015 to a sold-out ballroom at the Hilton Anatole.

"This series has become an important platform to explore globally relevant topics and we're attracting the foremost thought leaders as speakers," UNT President Neal Smatresk says. "The series has been so successful because we have such strong support and because we can draw on our faculty and program expertise on global issues like the economy and national security."

Past series speakers include: Admiral James Stavridis, chairman of the U.S. Naval Institute; General Michael Hayden, retired Air Force four-star general and former director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency; Robert Kaplan, author and geopolitical analyst; General Keith Alexander, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and former director of the NSA; and Andrea Tantaros, Fox News Channel host.

The series' next speaker is businessman and philanthropist, T. Boone Pickens, scheduled for May 10, 2016, at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. UNT System Board of Regents chairman, G. Brint Ryan, will facilitate the conversation with Pickens. Table sponsorships are currently available. More information may be found at kuehneseries.unt.edu.


Above (L-R): UNT President Neal Smatresk, Featured Speaker Richard Fisher, Series Benefactor Ernie Kuehne, UNT System Board of Regents Chairman G. Brint Ryan