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Bill Strickland to give Deem Distinguished Lecture

Bill Strickland

Manchester Bidwell Corporation President and Chief Operating Officer and MacArthur Genius Fellow Bill Strickland will give the Deem Distinguished Lecture at West Virginia University on March 2.

Hosted by WVU’s School of Art and Design, Strickland will speak on making the impossible possible at 5 p.m. in Bloch Learning and Performance Hall at the Creative Arts Center.

Strickland grew up in Manchester, an inner-city neighborhood of Pittsburgh. His life changed when he became inspired by high school art teacher Frank Ross, a skilled artisan on the potter's wheel. The relationship that Ross and Strickland initiated with a revolving mound of clay gave form to the future vision of Manchester Craftsmen's Guild. The Guild began as an after-school arts program in a donated North Side rowhouse that Strickland secured while still a college student at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1969, he graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree in American history and foreign relations.

The decline of the steel industry created widespread unemployment, and Bidwell Training Center addressed the problem by offering vocational training to displaced and underemployed workers. Due to Strickland's successful track record with MCG, he was asked in 1971 to assume leadership of BTC and guide its transition to providing skills relevant to Pittsburgh's emerging market economy. Strickland's involvement in both MCG and BTC doubled the strength of Manchester Bidwell Corporation's ability to help the community.

Today, Manchester Bidwell Corporation has evolved into a national model for education, culture and hope.

"Bill Strickland is someone who was profoundly changed by the arts,” said Shoji Satake, coordinator and associate professor of ceramics at WVU. “He has gone on to change the lives of thousands of people throughout the country. His story goes beyond the arts and the potential that art has to change the world.

“If we want our students to think about how to truly maximize their potential and the possibilities arts education has to create a life that can be rewarding, uplifting and contributing significantly to betterment of communities, Bill Strickland is that voice.”

Funded by Alison and Patrick Deem, the Deem Distinguished lecture began more than 20 years ago. The event annually helps further the WVU education experience by exposing students and faculty to cutting-edge artists and arts supporters.