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Nye inspires sold out crowd to ‘change the world’

Wade Allen
Sept. 8, 2009

Nye inspires sold out crowd to ‘change the world’When seven-time Emmy award winner Bill Nye walked onto the GPAC stage on Sept. 8 at 7:45 p.m., he was welcomed by a sold-out crowd that applauded for more than a minute and gave him the first of what would be two standing ovations.  Nye was appearing as the kick-off speaker for the 2009-2010 Distinguished Speaker Series.

“Greetings Braves,” Nye said as he approached the podium.  “I would like all of you to change the world, if you don’t mind.”  The speech marked the first time in recent memory that a distinguished speaker had sold out GPAC, which seats over 1,600 people.  At 7:45 p.m., there were around 30 seats left in the entire theatre.  Shortly after Nye took the stage, there was not an empty seat to be found. 

“I’m speechless,” science education graduate student Jeanetta Dunn said, as she sat on the second row.  Dunn said that she came to bring back childhood memories.  “I watched him as a child,” she said.  “I feel like a scholar.”  Nye starred in Disney’s “Bill Nye, the Science Guy” television show from 1993 to ’97. 

Nye’s speech lasted more than an hour and consisted of his trademark dry humor, information about the current state of our solar system and a slideshow presentation.
“We now use more energy in transportation than making things,” Nye said.  “I want to save the world for you and me.”  Just as Nye was making a serious point about fuel mileage for automobiles, a male member of the audience suddenly shouted a loud jumble of words, but it was apparent that no one heard what he had said. 

Nye inspires sold out crowd to ‘change the world’“I’m sure those are words,” Nye said, sparking laughter throughout the crowd.  “Do they allow drinking here?”  He continued to discuss the current state of the solar system, global warming and climate change.  “Most of my friends are human,” Nye said. 

Nye arrived on campus at 4:30 p.m., and appeared in an interview with WNCP-TV, followed by a dinner with the Chancellor and other invited guests in the U.C. annex. 

Sophomore secondary science education major Sarah Lineberger conducted the WNCP interview. 

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she said.  “I read his background information and since I love science, I wanted to know what he thought.” 

Following his speech, Nye answered several questions posed by members of the audience and posed for photographs with fans for over 30 minutes, although he chose not to sign any autographs during his visit to UNCP.  The Distinguished Speaker Series continues when rapper Chuck D appears in GPAC on Sept. 29.  Tickets are available by contacting the GPAC box office at (910) 521-6287. 

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Updated: Thursday, September 10, 2009
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