It is my honor to open the 2013 Conference on World Affairs and introduce the conference keynote speaker.

But before I do, I would like to take a moment to honor a superstar of this conference, film critic Roger Ebert, who passed on Thursday. Mr. Ebert was a regular panelist at the Conference on World Affairs for 40 years and he is already missed.

Roger Ebert knew well that the more than 100 speakers and panelists at the conference each year appear gratis.

He once joked that, "at a time when famous speakers can pull down $10,000 to $25,000 for an hour's work, this would seem like an offer they could refuse."

But they don't. They do it in the name of education, enlightenment and civic engagement. And all of us are the beneficiaries.

Conference participants from around the country, and the world, pay their own travel expenses, and many are hosted by Boulder families, making this conference not only possible, but also free.

World-renowned panelists are transported by students to and from the airport.

The Conference on World Affairs has addressed the major issues of our times for three generations, inviting wide-ranging discussion in a format that sets the example for civil discourse.

It was Mr. Ebert who called it "the conference on everything conceivable" and indeed it is, featuring 200 panel discussions, performances and plenaries in a single week.

So it's more appropriate than ever that our permanent theme for this conference has become,  "Everything Conceivable," a term coined by Roger Ebert.

We are pleased to be hosting the Conference on World Affairs for the 65th year.

Critical thinking, civil discourse, problem solving and civic engagement are important parts of the CU learning experience, and it thrills us when we can extend that experience to the Boulder, Denver and statewide community.

I hope you will return to campus for our many public offerings in the performing and visual arts, lectures and debates, including many that are free. These highly diversified offerings are powerful teachers of different cultures, perspectives, historical interpretations and philosophical discourse.

More than 385,000 citizens come on campus annually to take advantage of our museums, arts, and cultural events, and we want each of you to continue to be one of them.

In addition, more then 100,000 attend our programming and cultural outreach activities that we take into the community and around the state -- including the Western Slope -- as Colorado's flagship university.

Introduction of Hedrick Smith

Now it is my pleasure to introduce our keynote speaker, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Hedrick Smith.

In 26 years with the New York Times, Mr. Smith covered six American presidents and their administrations. In 1971, he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that produced the "Pentagon Papers" series. He covered the Vietnam War from Saigon and the Cold War from both Moscow and Washington. In 1974, he won the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting from Russia and Eastern Europe.

His best-selling book "The Russians" was based on his years as the New York Times Moscow bureau chief from 1971 to 1974. His recent book "Who stole the American Dream?" has been critically acclaimed for its analysis of political, economic and social trends in the United States over the past 40 years.

Hedrick Smith has created 26 prime-time specials for PBS, including two Emmy Award-winning Frontline programs. His PBS specials have included topics such as Wall Street, Wal-Mart, Enron, education reform, health care and the environment.

Please join me in welcoming Mr. Hedrick Smith.