Bigwood Lecture

Fergus Area College Foundation is honored to sponsor the annual Bigwood Lecture. Funded through an endowment by Otter Tail Power Company in 1991, the Lecture honors the late Bob Bigwood, who served as Otter Tail Power president and chairman of the board. Bigwood's leadership in civic affairs, at Otter Tail Power and at M State - Fergus Falls as a founder of both the College and Fergus Area College Foundation sets the standard for the Lecture's continuing recognition of engaged leaders and citizen participation.

Frances Presley Rice

Frances Presley Rice


2016 Bigwood Lecture brings Frances Presley Rice to Fergus Falls

Fergus Area College Foundation is proud to announce the 2016 Bigwood Lecture speaker is Frances Presley Rice, a woman whose life journey and achievements are remarkable.

The Bigwood Lecture, scheduled for 7 p.m. April 19 and preceded by a reception at 5:30, is free for all to attend and is meant as a way to recognize engaged leaders and citizen participation.

Since Frances has so many different talents and experiences, we are already planning community-wide opportunities throughout the week. We will keep you posted here and on our Facebook page as more information is available.

Here is a snapshot of Frances' journey:

  • Education - Juris Doctorate from University of California, Master of Business Administration from Golden Gate University, Bachelor of Science from Drury College in Springfield, Mo.
  • Military Career - Advanced from a private in the Women's Army Corps in 1964 to retiring as a lawyer and lieutenant colonel in the Judge Advocate General's Corps 20 years later, in 1984. Awarded Legion of Merit for her years of service.
  • African-American - Accorded the distinction of being one of America's Top 100 Black Business and Professional Women by the editorial board of Dollars and Sense magazine.
  • Film - Screenwriter, director and executive producer with Block Starz Music Television LLC. The studio is best known for its documentary film "Oscar Micheaux: The Czar of Black Hollywood," which was nominated for a Black Reel Award as the Outstanding Independent Documentary by the Foundation for the Advancement of African-Americans in Film.
  • Political Activism - Her great-great-grandparents were slaves, and she spent her formative years in poverty in the segregated South during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. She suffered personally from discrimination in the Democrat-controlled South and participated in civil rights protests as a high school student. Frances became politically active in 1982 and served as a member of President Ronald Reagan's Private Sector Initiatives Task Force. She worked as a volunteer in the campaigns of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, as well as Florida Govs. Jeb Bush and Rick Scott.

She and her husband are also interested in birding and hope to be able to do some of that while in our area.

Jim Bensen

Jim Bensen


2015 Bigwood Lecture Featured Jim Bensen, BSU President Emeritus

Make the Future Your Friend! Fergus Area College Foundation Bigwood Lecture was April 14, at Legacy Hall on the Fergus Falls campus of M State. Jim Bensen, Bemidji State University president emeritus, spoke about the future of technology and how quickly things are changing.

The opportunities for tomorrow's society are staggering in both size and impact. Thousands of possibilities are ready for us to embrace each day, and the world will never be the same. Manufacturing, construction, agriculture, health care, communications, energy, transportation and lifestyles are all postured for incredible change as we have never before experienced. Education, research, ideation, experimentation, innovation and design are the tools for a creative and fantastic future. The revolution of technology is under way!

Bigwood Lecture speaker Michael J. Strand (right) with FACF Board members Greg Wagner and Rob Bigwood.

Bigwood Lecture speaker Michael J. Strand (right) with FACF Board members Greg Wagner and Rob Bigwood.


2014 Bigwood Lecture Featured Michael J. Strand

Fergus Area College Foundation was pleased to introduce Michael J. Strand to the community on April 3. As guest speaker for the 22nd annual Bigwood Lecture, Strand challenged attendees to look for connections between art and the everyday of our lives. Strand, an associate professor/department head of Visual Arts at North Dakota State University, is an internationally known speaker and artist. His mission is to build community through art, craft and design by making objects that extend beyond the walls of the museum or the confines of a gallery.

During the afternoon, prior to his presentation, Strand spoke to campus art students and community members while providing demonstrations of his work in the pottery studio.

Chris Farrell, popular public radio personality, will speak at Bigwood Lecture on April 2.

Chris Farrell, popular public radio personality, will speak at Bigwood Lecture on April 2.


Chris Farrell Featured at 2013 Bigwood Lecture

"Work-tirement: How Aging Boomers Will Change the Way the Younger Generation Thinks about Work and the Good Life."

Personal finance expert and award-winning journalist Chris Farrell will be the guest speaker at the 21st annual Bigwood Lecture on Tuesday, April 2, in Legacy Hall on the Fergus Falls campus of Minnesota State Community and Technical College.

Farrell's address is entitled "Work-tirement: How Aging Boomers Will Change the Way the Younger Generation Thinks about Work and the Good Life." The Bigwood Lecture, which begins at 7 p.m., is free and open to the public.

Farrell, a resident of St. Paul, is a familiar voice to fans of public radio, where he was the host and executive editor of Right on the Money, a nationally syndicated personal finance series produced by Twin Cities Public Television. He is a lively commentator on the major issues of the day and a frequent speaker at conferences and universities on economics and personal finance. He is currently senior economics contributor at Marketplace, the nationally syndicated public radio business and personal finance program produced by American Public Media.

Farrell is also a columnist for Bloomberg Business Week, Next Avenue and the Star Tribune and the author of three books, most recently The New Frugality: How to Consume Less, Save More and Live Better. He is a graduate of Stanford University and the London School of Economics.

The Bigwood program will begin with a performance of Beethoven's Choral Fantasy featuring M State student pianist Johanna Becker, the Chamber Chorale under the direction of M State Choral director Teresa Ashworth and a chamber orchestra directed by Laurie Strom.
Bigwood Lecture is endowed by Otter Tail Power Company in honor of the late Robert M. Bigwood, the longtime power company president and board chairman who was instrumental in establishing the community college in Fergus Falls and Fergus Area College Foundation.


2012 Bigwood Lecture Features Richard L.Pemberton

The 20th annual Bigwood Lecture is pleased to present:

Richard L. Pemberton

"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." (King Henry VI, Shakespeare) "And what about the judges and jurors? Shall we kill them, too?"

Comments on the search for justice and upon the values that make life worth living.

7 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, in Legacy Hall at M State - Fergus Falls

The public is invited to attend.

Fergus Falls attorney Richard L. Pemberton is a recognized professional on state and national levels. He is a Fellow of the American Board of Trial Advocates and listed in Best Lawyers in America. He is a past president of the Minnesota Bar Association and was the governor-appointed chair of the Minnesota Racing Commission for nine years. Pemberton has served on numerous Minnesota Supreme Court boards and committees and currently is a member of the Supreme Court's Justice and Reform Task Force.

Senator Dave Durenberger - 2011 Bigwood Lecture Speaker

Senator Dave Durenberger - 2011 Bigwood Lecture Speaker


2011 Bigwood Lecture Features Sen. Dave Durenberger

The 19th Annual Bigwood Lecture presents:
Sen. Dave Durenberger

"Health Care Reform is a Journey, Not a Destination: Why Does It Have To Be So Hard?"
7 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, 2011Legacy Hall at M State - Fergus Falls

The public is invited to attend.

David F. Durenberger, who served Minnesota in the U.S. Senate from 1978-1995, is a nationally known speaker on the subject of health care and health care reform. His health policy experience extends back more than 30 years. Two years after his election to the Senate, Sen. Durenberger assumed a leadership role in national health reform as the Republican chairman of the Health Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee. Sen. Durenberger is the founder and current chair of the National Institute of Health Policy at the Opus College of Business of the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, he has served on various national health commissions and he currently serves on the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. He authored Prescription for Change, a book about health care reform through consumer choice, and writes a popular bi-weekly national commentary on current events.

The Bigwood family with Senator McGovern

The Bigwood family with Senator McGovern


2010 Bigwood Lecture

The 2010 Bigwood Lecture, held April 20, featured Sen. George McGovern, a 2010 Nobel Peace Prize nominee. McGovern's speech, "Ending Hunger in Our Time," was a reflection of his encounters with hunger as a boy growing up in South Dakota and how he has addressed the issue during his many years of public service. Following the program, which was attended by more than 300 people, McGovern signed several of his books including his most recent release, "Abraham Lincoln."

Last modified: August 12th, 2015 at 12:55pm