VC announces 2017-18 Lyceum Lecture Series lineup

Victoria College’s 2017-18 Lyceum Lecture Series will feature a former U.S. Army Ranger who witnessed firsthand the terrorist attack on the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi, a former National Football League player who recently hung up his cleats for good to pursue a career in mathematics and an award-winning filmmaker who has chronicled the hazards of plastics to the ecosystem.

The series will begin on Monday, Oct. 2 at 6 p.m. at the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts with Kris “Tanto” Paronto, who was part of the CIA annex security team that responded to the terrorist attack in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.

Former Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman and math enthusiast John Urschel, who recently shocked the sports world when he walked away from a lucrative NFL career to focus on obtaining his doctorate in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will continue the series on Monday, March 5 at 2 p.m. at VC’s Sports Center.

Freelance journalist and Canadian Television producer Ian Connacher will wrap up the series on Tuesday, April 17 at 2 p.m. at the VC Student Center. Connacher, who has been covering environmental issues for more than 10 years, will speak on his award-winning film Addicted to Plastic. He has spent two years in 12 countries and five continents filming the effects of plastics to the environment.

“We are very pleased with the three speakers we have lined up for this series,” said Victoria College Lyceum Committee Chair Robert Hodde. “We believe all three will offer valuable insight on timely and relevant topics.”

Paronto served four years in the U.S. Army and four more in the U.S. Army National Guard. He has been involved in security missions in hostile environments for more than 10 years. Paronto’s account of the attack in Benghazi is told in the book 13 Hours and was used in producing the 2016 major motion picture of the same name.

Paronto’s appearance is presented in part by Redeemer Lutheran Church.

Urschel, who holds a master’s degree in mathematics from Penn State, started 13 games and played in 40 during his three-year career with the Ravens. In the prime of his career, the 26-year-old Urschel announced his retirement from football on July 27.

Connacher will offer practical solutions for recycling plastic and provide a hopeful perspective about overcoming the negative environmental impact of plastic. Connacher was recently filmed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean atop a large mound of plastic debris that has accumulated over the years.

“Victoria College’s Lyceum Committee worked hard and considered hundreds of potential speakers,” Hodde said. “We received valuable input and speaker suggestions from the community, and we feel the three we have chosen make up one of the strongest Lyceum lineups we have had.”

For more information on the Lyceum Lecture Series, call (361) 573-3291 or visit