Cultural Enhancement Series begins 18th year

Jessica Voorhees

This year marks the 18th season of the Cultural Enhancement Series, a lineup of distinguished artists and intellectuals who interact with the WKU community through public events throughout the year. 

David Lee, head chairman of the CES Committee, said students and faculty will have access to performances and lectures from internationally and nationally renowned artists as well as the opportunity to engage in Q&A sessions and special classes taught by the guests.

This year’s lineup features lectures from Bill Nye and MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry. There will also be performances from the Mummenschanz mask-theater troupe, and bluegrass and gospel musicians co-presented by the Kentucky Folklife Program at WKU.

A committee composed of WKU faculty is in charge of providing the programming for the series. Lee said he looks for speakers and performers who address current social and political issues in a unique way. 

“We want them to be very interesting,” he said. “We want them to have some clear skills as a presenter, and we’d like for them to be a little different, a little unconventional, something folks might have never seen before.” 

Of the six performances and lectures, four are premiere events that require a ticket for admission. 

Lee said premiere ticketing was newly established this year to manage the large crowds showing up for the events. In the past, seats were filled so quickly that many who came were denied entrance.

“We don’t want to have to turn folks away,” Lee said. 

All events including the premiere ticketing events are free. Seats will go out on a first come, first serve basis. 

Students anticipate the series with mixed sentiments.

Morgantown sophomore Hollie Coleman said the lineup is not quite captivating enough to draw her back to campus in the evening.

“I’m a commuter, so I probably won’t go,” she said.

Baltimore freshman Jack Goulet is more willing to see what is offered.

“I’m curious to hear what Bill Nye has to say,” he said. 

The main goal of the CES is to introduce students to diverse ways of thought and artistic form.

“Part of what we’re trying to do is to stretch folks a little bit,” Lee said. “I hope students will be exposed to ideas they never thought of before.”

The first event is “Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis” at Van Meter Hall on Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m. For ticket information, visit or call the Fine Arts Box Office at 270-745-3121.