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A-State ‘Honors Lecture of the Year’ will Feature First Woman to Row Across Atlantic, Feb. 12


“The first few strokes of the day were the hardest. My fingers were raw. My knees creaked. My shoulders were stiff. I didn’t need eyes to sense daybreak. I could feel the dawn. As the first rays of the sunrise warmed my back, this early warmth was welcome, but as the sun climbed the vertebrae of my spine, its rays transformed into whips of flame that lashed my back. When the sun reached its apex at midday, radiant energy poured down on my head and my clothes dripped with perspiration. The black straps of my life vest soaked up the heat until I thought the skin beneath my shirt would boil . . .”

-- Tori Murden McClure in  
“A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean”  

JONESBORO – With that excerpt from chapter four of the riveting, detailed account of her successful quest to be the first woman to row alone across the Atlantic, Tori Murden McClure vividly demonstrates the drive and perseverance that has made her highly successful and an inspiration to thousands of students and others.

She will bring that message to Arkansas State University for the Honors Lecture of the Year, an annual tradition at Arkansas State, on Tuesday, Feb. 12.

“The Honors College is the main organizer for this event, but it is supported by a university-wide coalition of students, faculty, staff, and administrators,” said Rebecca Oliver, director of the Honors College. “The Honors Lecture of the Year aims to stimulate campus discussion through academic discourse about an issue that affects higher education.”

McClure’s presentation, the fifth installment of the annual series, will begin at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Carl R. Reng Student Union. Admission is free and open to the public.

A reception and book signing will follow her address. The ASU Bookstore has copies of “A Pearl in the Storm” and will make them available for purchase at the lecture.

Today, McClure is president of Spalding University in Louisville, Ky. The basis of her adventure, as she documented in the book, was the challenge of rowing a 23-foot boat solo across the Atlantic Ocean, a trip of more than 3,300 miles.

Honors students like Zach Marsh, a senior from Lake Hamilton, will especially enjoy McClure’s presentation about her experiences because has already read the book.

"A Pearl in the Storm was a great example of not always exceeding in life, yet with the support of loved ones those challenges can be overcome,” he said. “The book shows it isn't necessarily the task that changes us, but the events along the way that define our true character."

McClure’s record of discovery does not stop with the ocean crossing. She was one of two women and six Americans who were the first women and first Americans to travel over land to the geographic South Pole, skiing 750 miles from the ice shelf to the pole. While on Antarctica, the avid mountaineer who has climbed on several continents became the first woman to climb Lewis Nunatuck summit.

McClure’s book has been widely praised, including comments by actress Candice Bergen.

“Tori Murden McClure is one of the most remarkable women I have ever met; her journey across the ocean is equal only to her journey of the heart. This is a story of courage, adventure, and personal discovery that will appeal to women – and men of all ages,” she said.

While in Jonesboro, McClure will participate in four additional events. The evening before the lecture, she will be guest of honor at a reception hosted by Dr. Dee Dee Hudson at the Chancellor’s Residence.

On the day of the lecture, she will be guest speaker for an ASU Honors Oral Communication class, which is taught by Linda Clark; she will speak to 3rd, 4th and 5th graders during a 2 p.m. assembly at Nettleton Intermediate Center; and she will have dinner with a group of ASU Honors College students.

Lecture series co-sponsors with the Honors College are the Office of the Provost, College of Sciences and Mathematics, the Graduate School, College of Business, College of Nursing & Health Professions, Continuing Education & Community Outreach, Dean B. Ellis Library, Student Government Association (SGA) Action Fund, Honors College Association (HCA), College of Agriculture & Technology, College of Fine Arts, and College of Humanities & Social Sciences.

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Honors Lecture of the Year website:

Tori Murden McClure
Tori Murden McClure

“Tori Murden McClure is one of the most remarkable women I have ever met; her journey across the ocean is equal only to her journey of the heart. This is a story of courage,
adventure, and personal discovery that will appeal to women – and
men of all ages.”

– Candice Bergen