The 1957 DePauw graduate will present the inaugural 175th Anniversary Distinguished Alumni Lecture at 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19 in Meharry Hall of historic East College. The program is free and open to all.
A legendary figure in the civil rights movement and the former National Urban League president, Jordan has advised U.S. presidents, and was on campus in November to introduce his good friend, America's 42nd president, Bill Clinton, who delivered an Ubben Lecture before 5,000 people in the Lilly Center.
An advisory member of the DePauw Board of Trustees, Jordan is a partner at Lazard Frères & Co. LLC in New York and senior managing director of Lazard Group LLC. He is also of counsel/senior counsel at Akin Gump.
Following remarks touching on his DePauw experience and career in public life, Jordan will join a conversation with John A. Dittmer, DPU professor emeritus of history and award-winning scholar of the civil rights movement.
Earlier on Feb. 19, Jordan will provide a special narration during the DePauw Band and Orchestra's "Music of the 21st Century" closing concert at 3 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium.
The narration is featured in "New Morning for the World: "Daybreak of Freedom," a piece written in tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. by DePauw guest composer Joseph Schwantner.
Including text from four of Dr. King's famous speeches, "Daybreak of Freedom" has been performed by major orchestras throughout the U.S. and has been narrated by such individuals as Coretta Scott King, James Earl Jones and Maya Angelou.
Jordan has also served as executive director of the United Negro College Fund; director of the Voter Education Project of the Southern Regional Council; attorney-consultant, U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity; assistant to the executive director of the Southern Regional Council; Georgia field director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and an attorney in private practice in Arkansas and Georgia.
His presidential appointments include: President's Advisory Committee for the Points of Light Initiative Foundation; the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on South Africa; the Advisory Council on Social Security; the Presidential Clemency Board; the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission; the National Advisory Committee on Selective Service; and the Council of the White House Conference "To Fulfill These Rights."
In 1992, Jordan served as the chairman of the Clinton Presidential Transition Team.
A political science major as an undergraduate at DePauw, Jordan went on to earn his law degree at Howard University.
He holds honorary doctoral degrees from more than 60 colleges and universities in America, including DePauw, and is the author of "Vernon Can Read! A Memoir" and "Make It Plain: Standing Up and Speaking Out."
In December 2009, Jordan was one of eight individuals presented with the DuBois Medal, the highest honor awarded by the Harvard University Institute of Politics' W.E.B. DuBois Institute. He's also been honored with the Spingarn Medal, the NAACP's highest honor for achievement, the Trumpet Award, and DePauw's Old Gold Goblet and McNaughton Medal for Public Service.
In his 1993 commencement address at DePauw, Jordan declared, "DePauw expanded my mind, broadened my horizons, lifted my sights, prepared me to serve and to lead and nurtured my growth and maturity. I made lasting friendships here. If I had my life to live over again, I would return to this place."
The next 175th Anniversary Distinguished Alumni Lecture features Kyle S. Smitley, a 2007 DePauw graduate. Smitley, founder and owner of the organic children's clothing line Barley & Birch, will speak March 7 at 8 p.m. in Meharry Hall.