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Sunday, April 21, 2019
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ESPN Commentator Stephen A. Smith to Speak Tonight

poster with head shots of Al Jaffe, Stephen A. Smith

This year’s Al Jaffe Speaker Series presents ESPN commentator and NBA analyst Stephen A. Smith.

Smith is a featured commentator on ESPN’s First Take, discussing and debating the sports topics of the day. He joined First Take on a permanent basis in 2012. After attending the Fashion Institute of Technology for one year, Smith received a basketball scholarship to attend Winston-Salem State University, a historically black university in North Carolina, from which he graduated in 1991. Previously, Smith held several positions, most recently as a general sports columnist for 16 years with the Philadelphia Inquirer (1994-2010). Prior to joining the Inquirer, Smith was a reporter with the Winston-Salem Journal, the Greensboro News and Record and the New York Daily News.

For the Emerson community only; reserve your seat at www.ajss2019.com. Sponsored by Communication Studies and the School of Communication.

Below is an article about the Al Jaffe Speaker Series from 2016, its inaugural year:

Al Jaffe Speaker Series to Bring Sports VIPs to Emerson

By Erin Clossey

Not long after Al Jaffe ’68 retired from ESPN as vice president of talent recruitment and negotiation, the sports network’s president, John Skipper, took him to lunch.

“If there’s anything I can ever do for you…” Skipper told Jaffe.

Later that year, Jaffe ran into Skipper at a party and told him about a new sports speaker series Emerson College was launching and naming after Jaffe, also co-vice chair of the College’s Board of Trustees. Then he reminded Skipper of his offer.

“He didn’t hesitate,” Jaffe said. “Skipper was always at the top of my list. He’s one of the most powerful people in sports media. I think he’s the perfect choice to be the inaugural speaker. He’s very smart, he’s funny, he’s personable.”

Skipper, who has expanded the channel’s mobile offerings and increased its commitment to Spanish-speaking and women sports fans since heading up ESPN, will talk with Jaffe in the Bordy Theater on Wednesday, March 23, at 6:30 pm, as the first guest in the Al Jaffe Speaker Series. Students from all majors will have the chance to ask questions and join the conversation.

The Communication Studies Department is expanding its increasingly popular sports communication courses into a new program, said Spencer Kimball, director of the Sports Communication Program. Each semester, the series will bring a speaker drawn from connections made during Jaffe’s 28-year career at ESPN, who will give students direct insights into the world of sports, Kimball said.

“Al’s willingness to bring in his Rolodex of people will be very helpful in our students’ understanding of the sports industry,” he said.

“I was excited by this prospect, and I’m very honored,” Jaffe said.

Jaffe, who majored in Mass Communication at Emerson and began his career at local news stations in Boston, said he’s always made a point to help fellow Emersonians who showed talent and drive. Whenever he came to campus for Board of Trustees meetings, he said he would make a point to ask faculty to send him their best students who were interested in sports journalism.

The Al Jaffe Speaker Series is a way to teach students about aspects of the sports industry that they wouldn’t necessarily learn about in the classroom. But through students’ interactions with the speakers, it also has the potential to show off the College and the students themselves to some of the heaviest hitters in the business.

“Let them see the bright students we have. Let them have a taste of…how smart these kids are, and programmatically, how strong Emerson College is,” Jaffe said.