Thursday, January 27, 2022
  Around Campus, Community

By News and Internal Communications

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXASAcademy Award, Golden Globe, Emmy and Grammy-winning artist, actor and activist, Common, will be the next speaker for the UTRGV Distinguished Speaker Series (DSS) on Tuesday, Feb. 1.

“The Distinguished Speaker Series committee has been working with agencies on bringing a big name to UTRGV for the Spring semester. The opportunity presented itself to work with Common and everything aligned so that he could help us kickstart African American History Month (Feb. 1-March 1) on campus,” said Cindy Mata-Vasquez, director of Student Activities.

Academy Award, Golden Globe, Emmy and Grammy-winning artist, actor and activist, Common, will be the next speaker for the UTRGV Distinguished Speaker Series (DSS) on Tuesday, Feb. 1. (Photo by Durimel)

Born Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., Common is an acclaimed artist known for his Grammy Award-winning hits – “Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)” and “Southside,” and Academy Award winning song “Glory,” from the 2014 film, Selma. He transitioned from music to film, where he has starred in Selma, John Wick: Chapter 2, American Gangster, and more.

In addition to his musical and acting talents, Common is the author of two books – a memoir called “One Day I’ll Make Sense,” and “Let Love Have the Last Word.”

He is an activist and philanthropist, and along with his mother, Dr. Mahalia Hines, founded the nonprofit organization Common Ground Foundation, dedicated to the empowerment and development of disadvantaged youths in urban communities.

He also founded Imagine Justice, a nonprofit dedicated to leveraging the power of art to advocate for communities around the country, to fight for justice and equality and to stand united against injustice wherever it appears.

The UTRGV event starts at 7:30 p.m. and will be hosted in person for a limited audience at the Performing Arts Complex on the Edinburg Campus. The public is invited to attend, but priority seating will go to UTRGV students, faculty and staff.

Doors will open to UTRGV students, faculty and staff at 7 p.m. and to the public at 7:15 p.m. Members of the university community should present their UTRGV student/staff ID at the door.

As per university COVID-19 protocols, regardless of vaccination status, the use of face coverings in university buildings is strongly encouraged.

Registering in advance for the in-person event is recommended.

To RSVP for the in-person event, register at

Those unable to attend in person will have a virtual option to watch live, available by registering at

“The committee and the Student Activities office is happy to be able to return to in-person events, while still being able to provide a virtual option for those not able to join us in person. In offering both options, we can reach a larger audience,” Mata said.



DSS is a signature program under the leadership of UTRGV Student Activities that aims to provide the university and surrounding community with world-class speakers and lecturers. DSS hosts public events with priority seating for UTRGV students, faculty, and staff. The series has brought in notable speakers such as the former leader of Russia Mikhail Gorbachev, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, author and civil rights activist the late Dr. Maya Angelou, Emmy award-winning CNN host Larry King, and Grammy/Oscar award-winning R&B artist John Legend.

For more information about this event, visit


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.