Common Reader Program is “What Unites Us”

This year’s Common Reader program brings one of Sam Houston State University’s most renowned alumnus—Dan Rather. The selection committee decided that Dan Rather’s “What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism” presents “timely, relevant and cross-disciplinary topics affecting [SHSU] students.”

According to the Common Reader website, “The overarching goal of the Common Reader Program is to provide a campus-wide common intellectual experience, leading to informed and educated perspectives about complex subjects.”

Every year, a new book is selected for the program, and students are provided with contests each Fall that have scholarships attached to them for the winners. In addition to the variety of contests, there are events during the Common Reader week for students, faculty, and alumni. This year’s events will take place Oct. 8-11, with Rather—the author and esteemed journalist—in attendance for the events Oct. 10 and 11.

“We’ve made this event about students, faculty, staff, and alumni,” Director of First Year Experience Kay Angrove said.

Rather actually specifically requested to be with students. He will be escorted to and from events by Mass Communications students and the University Police Department.

Beginning that Monday (Oct. 8), there will be the Get out the Vote: Critical Thinking through Deliberative Dialogues event from 4-7 p.m. in the Lowman Student Center Ballroom.  Student groups will compete for a first place prize of $500 and a second place prize of $250 by using critical thinking to work through hypothetical situations. Dinner will be provided.

On Tuesday, the Free Speech and Expressive Activity Forum will take place in the LSC room 320 from 12:30-1:50 p.m. Lunch will be provided. Later that evening from 5-6 p.m. will be the Fine Arts Juried Show and Awards Ceremony in the LSC Art Gallery. SHSU Common Reader student art will be exhibited, and contest winners will be announced. Light refreshments will be provided accompanied by music. Tuesday will conclude with the Service as a Virtue: Friends Help Friends Community Service Fair presented by the Student Money Management Center. Free popcorn and food will be provided along with a scholarship drawing for $250.

Wednesday and Thursday will give students, faculty, and alumni a few opportunities to meet Rather at public events. Wednesday at 1 p.m. there is a Dan Rather Meet-and-Greet Photo Opportunity in the LSC Art Gallery from 1-3 p.m. A reservation is required and can be requested at Later that evening is the Third Annual Mass Comm Film Festival in the Olson Auditorium in Academic Building IV from 7:30-9 p.m. Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Students’ short films based on Rather’s book will be shown, and the film contest winners will be announced.

Thursday will feature Rather as the keynote speaker at the Common Reader Finale Event. The event is free; however, a ticket is required. Tickets will be available to faculty, staff, and students with a valid Bearkat OneCard that morning in the Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center (GPAC) lobby. The event itself will be from 2-3:15 p.m. in the Payne Concert Hall. Once seating there fills up, the event will be broadcast in the LSC Ballroom as an overflow. Alumni can reserve a limited number of advanced tickets by emailing The week of events will conclude Thursday afternoon with a Book Signing from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in the Payne Concert Hall. The line will start in the lobby.

For more information about the schedule of events or for answers to any other questions surrounding the Common Reader Program, contact the First Year Experience office at

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