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Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, journalist John Stossel, political activist Ralph Nader headline Vanderbilt University’s 2010 Impact Symposium

by Feb. 11, 2010, 8:04 AM

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, journalist John Stossel and political activist Ralph Nader will deliver public lectures and sign copies of their books at Vanderbilt University March 30-31 as part of the university’s annual Impact Symposium.

The theme of this year’s lectures is “The Future of Capitalism.” Nader and Stossel will speak Tuesday, March 30, at 8 p.m. in a point-counterpoint discussion titled “Business or the Consumer First?” Romney’s talk on “American Capitalism in the World” is scheduled for Wednesday, March 31, at 7 p.m. Both lectures will be held in Vanderbilt’s Langford Auditorium.

Tickets for the event are on sale. General public tickets are $10 at Sarratt box office or any Ticketmaster outlet. Tickets may also be purchased at or by calling 800-745-3000.

Tickets to the lectures are free to Vanderbilt students, faculty and staff. Only one free ticket may be picked up with Vanderbilt identification card at the university’s Sarratt Student Center box office.

Non-Vanderbilt students with their college or university identification cards may purchase tickets for $5 at the Sarratt box office or any Ticketmaster outlet only.

Nader and Romney will also be available for book signings at the Vanderbilt Bookstore. Stossel’s and Nader’s books will be available for purchase and Nader is scheduled to be at the store Tuesday, March 30, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Romney is making a copy of his latest book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, available free of charge to those attending his book signing and lecture. Romney is scheduled to be at the bookstore 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 31.

An attorney and four-time presidential candidate, Nader first made headlines with a 1965 book, Unsafe at Any Speed, which denounced the auto industry for producing unsafe vehicles. The book led to congressional hearings and a series of automobile safety laws passed in 1966.

Since 1966, Nader has been responsible for at least eight major federal consumer protection laws such as motor vehicle safety laws and the Safe Drinking Water Act. He also played a role in the launch of federal regulatory agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Environment Protection Agency and Consumer Product Safety Administration. Nader has inspired and established a number of advocacy organizations, the largest of which is Public Citizen, founded in 1971. The groups under the Public Citizen umbrella include Congress Watch, Health Research Group, Critical Mass Energy Project, Global Trade Watch, and the Litigation Group.

Stossel, an award-winning journalist, is best known for his work as co-anchor of ABC News’ “20/20.” Last year he joined Fox News Channel to host the weekly program “Stossel” on Fox Business Network and to make regular appearances on Fox News Channel.

Romney currently serves as the honorary chairman of the Free and Strong America Political Action Committee. In 2008, he made a bid for the Republican presidential nomination. He was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2002.

He first gained national attention for his role in the 2002 Winter Olympics. With the 2002 Games mired in controversy and facing a financial crisis, Romney left behind a career as an entrepreneur to take over as president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. He spent three years at the helm in Salt Lake and is credited with successfully turning the games around after a rocky start.

Prior to his work with the Olympics, Romney was a vice president at Bain & Company Inc., a leading management consulting firm. In 1984, Romney founded Bain Capital, one of the nation’s most successful venture capital and investment companies. Bain Capital helped launch hundreds of companies on a successful course, including Staples, Bright Horizons Family Solutions, Domino’s Pizza, Sealy, Brookstone and The Sports Authority. He was asked to return to Bain & Company as CEO several years later in order to lead a financial restructuring of the organization.

This year’s Impact Symposium continues a long-standing tradition at Vanderbilt. Impact, one of the oldest university lecture series of its caliber in the nation, began in 1964 when a group of Vanderbilt students saw the need to increase the campus’s exposure to current issues by providing a symposium in which intellectually challenging – and sometimes controversial – speakers could be heard.

In 1968, the series passed a milestone when Robert Kennedy drew a record attendance of 16,000 people from more than 100 college delegations across the United States. Over the years, successive Impact programs have brought speakers such as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., George McGovern, Robert McNamara, Jesse Jackson, former presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to campus. Last year’s event featured Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Israeli legislator Natan Sharansky.