Rob Lowe to deliver Ubben Lecture in May


Rob Lowe, an actor, producer and author, will deliver a Timothy and Sharon Ubben Lecture at 7:30 p.m. on May 1. Lowe is known for TV shows such as “The West Wing” and “Parks and Recreation.”

Unlike past Ubben Lecture speakers, which are sometimes found through an agency, Lowe was approached due to an alumni connection, but apparently was already interested in visiting DePauw because his parents, Charles D. Lowe and Barbara Helper ‘61, and grandfather, Robert E. Lowe ‘31, attended the University. “One of the alums on our board is friend’s with Rob Lowe’s dad. The way it was presented to me was that Rob had interest in seeing DePauw . . . . Even in one of his books he mentions DePauw. I think it was just in his mind that he was curious about DePauw, had some fascination with seeing the place,” said Ken Owen, executive director of media relations.

Owen has been in contact with Lowe’s representative since January trying to find an available date. “It has been unusual in that we don’t have a contract for instance. We’re just talking on the phone, so I’m operating on faith that Rob’s going to be here. I know that he’s very excited about it,” Owen said.

Lowe’s career in entertainment spans over 30 years. His breakout performance in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Outsiders” positioned Lowe for an illustrious career starring in feature films such as “St. Elmo’s Fire” and “About Last Night...” His career has not been without hiccups. Following his infamous sex tape scandal in 1988, Lowe’s career was negatively affected in the late 80s. A decade later Lowe bounced back from the controversy starring in two critically acclaimed ensemble casts as Sam Seaborn in “The West Wing” and Chris Traeger in “Parks and Recreation. He received two Screen Actors Guild awards in 2001 and 2002 for his performance in “The West Wing.”

The DePauw community is also very excited to have Lowe come to campus, perhaps even more so than former British Prime Minister David Cameron or Leslie Odom Jr. “Today, the story on our site is up to like 3,100 likes. What’s interesting is that [the story on] David Cameron, today, is has 2,400. Leslie Odom Jr., I think, has 1,700 and that has been up since August. People are really jazzed about this event,” Owen said.

The topic for Lowe’s speech was not announced. However, it is often unknown what exactly the Ubben Lecturers will speak about until closer to the actual event.

“I created the titles of David Cameron’s talk and Leslie Odom’s talk. We were lucky in both cases because they concocted speeches that hit the mark. That doesn’t always happen. Sometimes you have a conversation with somebody and you say ‘Can you come and talk about Iraq?’ and they end up talking about the United Nations. It doesn’t happen a lot, but it is like an open mic,” Owen said.

Nevertheless, based on Owen’s conversation with Lowe’s representatives, he believes that the speech will be humorous but also relevant for students. Owen said, “The things that happened to him in the late eighties would derail most people’s careers and they’d be things that a lot of people would never recover from, and I think he’s a great example, and it’s a terrific message for young people of someone who stumbled a bit but found themselves.”

Additionally, Owen hopes that students will take full advantage of Lowe coming to deliver the last Ubben Lecture of the 2016-2017 school year. “For a campus of this size to get programs of this caliber is pretty amazing. I think sometimes our students take it for granted. I get call sometimes from students from Purdue, IU, and Butler asking how do we get in. So, I thank the Ubbens for their generosity,” Owen said.  

The Ubben Lecture series was established in 1986 through the support of 1958 graduates Timothy and Sharon Ubben.