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(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)July 31, 2003

(Mahwah) – Neurologist Oliver Sacks, author of Awakenings, will be the guest speaker at Ramapo College of New Jersey’s Opening Convocation, to be held Wednesday, September 24 at 2 p.m. outside at the Band Shell. Creativity and the Brain” will be his topic. Organized in conjunction with the celebration of National Disability Awareness Month, the lecture is free and the public is invited to attend.

In 1966, Sacks encountered a group of survivors of the sleeping sickness” epidemic that killed millions in the 1920s. Frozen like human statues for decades, these men and women were the victims of a forgotten disease that had long since been considered untreatable. After administering the experimental drug L-dopa, Sacks saw them awaken with an explosive quality, as of corks released from a great depth.” His best-selling book about their experiences, Awakenings, inspired the Harold Pinter play, A Kind of Alaska, and the film Awakenings (starring Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams).

The bestseller, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, brought Sacks’ work to even greater public attention with heartbreaking and inspiring tales of patients whose perceptions were remarkably altered by various neurological conditions. It was adapted into a play by Peter Brook and an opera by Michael Nyman, both produced worldwide.

In Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood, Sacks looks back on his childhood in wartime London, revealing his boyhood love of chemistry as the source of his lifelong scientific curiosity. The book was named one of the best books of 2001 by the The New York Times Book Review.

Sacks was featured in a multi-part BBC-TV series, Oliver Sacks: The Mind Traveler, which aired on PBS. His other works include The Island of the Colorblind and An Anthropologist on Mars. His latest book, Oaxaca Journal, is an account of a trip with a group of fellow fern enthusiasts to the history-steeped province of Mexico.

A faculty member at the New York University Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Sacks was awarded Rockefeller University’s 2001 Lewis Thomas Prize, honoring the scientist as poet.

In case of rain, Opening Convocation will be held in the Athletic Center. The public is invited to park in the lot next to the tennis courts, with access from Halifax Rd., just off of Rt. 202. For more information, please call 201.684.7910.

Disability Awareness Month

October is designated National Disability Awareness Month in honor of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and in recognition of the many accomplishments of people with disabilities. In celebration of Disability Awareness Month, Ramapo College’s Office of Specialized Services invites an honored guest to campus each year. In 2003, Specialized Services teamed with the Campus-wide Events Committee to bring Dr. Oliver Sacks to the campus as the Opening Convocation speaker.

Sponsors of the 2003 Opening Convocation include the Office of the President, the Office of Specialized Services, the School of Social Science and Human Services, the School of Theoretical and Applied Science and the Office of Student Development.


Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The College is ranked #1 among New Jersey public institutions by College Choice, has been named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and is recognized as a top college by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Princeton Review and Money magazine, among others. Ramapo College is also distinguished as a Career Development College of Distinction by, boasts the best campus housing in New Jersey on, and is designated a “Military Friendly College” in Victoria Media’s Guide to Military Friendly Schools.

Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Business Administration, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Technology, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice.


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