Strickland to Address Art of Leadership in Oct. 8 Lecture

Issue Date: 
October 6, 2014

Continually inspired by the joy he experienced at a pottery wheel in his youth, Pitt alumnus and trustee William E. Strickland Jr. has been working for more than 45 years to mold and shape lives for the better through the creation of community art and job training centers. Strickland will share his unique insights into the arts, business world, and community engagement as the next speaker in the University of Pittsburgh’s American Experience Distinguished Lecture Series. 

Strickland will deliver his lecture, “The Art of Leadership,” at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8 in Ballroom B of Pitt’s University Club. The event is free and open to the public; due to limited seating, registration is requested. The lecture is sponsored by Pitt’s Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy and the University Honors College and cosponsored by Pitt’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence.

“The American Experience Distinguished Lecture Series was established in Pittsburgh more than 40 years ago to enlighten the citizenry of Southwestern Pennsylvania on the great traditions of American political and economic thought,” said Edward L. McCord, director of programming and special projects in Pitt’s University Honors College and director of the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy. “William E. Strickland Jr. is a remarkable testament to what can be accomplished through diligence and perseverance. He has dedicated his life to helping others achieve their hopes and dreams, which makes him a most notable figure.”

Strickland serves as the president and CEO of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation, a job-training and community-arts organization with a proven record for positively influencing the lives of underserved populations in Pittsburgh and the surrounding regions. The Manchester Bidwell Corporation serves as the parent company to the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, established by Strickland in 1968 while he was an undergraduate at Pitt, and the Bidwell Training Center, a vocational training organization that came under Strickland’s leadership in 1972.  

Inspired by the arts as a youth, particularly the ceramic arts, Strickland designed a business model for his nonprofit organizations that served both to culturally enlighten and vocationally train. Today, he is internationally recognized as a visionary leader who has used the arts and career training to produce business opportunities in communities across the country.

Strickland is the author of Make the Impossible Possible: One Man’s Crusade to Inspire Others to Dream Bigger and Achieve the Extraordinary (Doubleday, 2007). The internationally acclaimed book focuses on his belief that every person has the potential for remarkable achievement. Strickland most recently shared his life experiences in the fall 2014 edition of Pittsburgh Quarterly magazine.

Strickland has been honored with numerous awards and distinctions for his contributions to the arts and humanity. He is a recipient of the 2013 Visionary Award from the George W. Crawford Black Bar Association, the 2011 Goi Peace Award from the Goi Peace Foundation, and a “genius” grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. In 2007, Strickland was named the “Pittsburgher of the Year” by Pittsburgh Magazine.

A cum laude graduate of Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, Strickland earned a bachelor’s degree in American history and foreign relations in 1970. His Pitt accolades have included a Distinguished Alumni Fellow designation, induction into the University’s inaugural Legacy Laureate class, and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Pitt’s African American Alumni Council.

The American Experience lecture program was created by the late Pitt faculty member Robert G. Hazo to offer Pittsburghers the opportunity to gain insight into political and economic thought with the intent of enlightening the public’s political discourse.