Skip to main content

GV Now

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns to speak Thursday at Grand Valley

Posted on April 20, 2011

Ken Burns, one of the most influential documentary filmmakers of all time, will speak at Grand Valley State University as the third and final 50th Anniversary Distinguished Academic Lecturer.

Using the insights gleaned from his work, Burns will turn his keen eye to the future with his lecture “The Next 50 Years in the United States,” Thursday, April 21, 7 p.m. at the L.V. Eberhard Center, 301 W. Fulton, on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus. It will be followed by a Q&A session and a reception. All events are free and open to the public.

A WGVU Newsmakers television program with Ken Burns, hosted by Patrick Center, will air on WGVU 35.1 Grand Rapids and WGVK 52.1 Kalamazoo on three occasions:  April 22 at 9:30 p.m.; April 24 at 4 a.m.; and April 27 at 6 p.m. The program or excerpts will also air on WGVU 88.5 FM and WGVS 95.3 FM on Midday Friday April 22.

Burns, who was born in 1953 in Brooklyn, N.Y., graduated from Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor in 1971, and received a bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. in 1975. He is the recipient of more than 20 honorary degrees and is co-founder of Florentine Films. He has unofficially visited Grand Valley previously while his father, Robert Kyle Burns, taught anthropology and photography from 1973 until his retirement in 1993.

Burns has devoted more than 30 years of his life to examining America’s past. His documentary films and series have ranged from profiles of suffragettes Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the adventurous Lewis and Clark, and the innovative architect Frank Lloyd Wright, to historic insights about the Civil War. Some of his other films focused on diverse icons of America, from the Statue of Liberty and the National Parks, to baseball and jazz.
The Baltimore Sun once praised Burns as "not only the greatest documentarian of the day, but also the most influential filmmaker period ... because Burns not only turned millions of persons onto history, but showed us a new way of looking at our collective past and ourselves."

A GVSU 50th Anniversary Event. For more information, call x12179 or visit

Recent Articles

more articles