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SXU chosen for screening of NOVA's Percy Julian documentary

Event includes essay contest by area high school students

Chicago (Jan. 10, 2007) – Saint Xavier University will show an excerpt of a NOVA documentary on African-American scientist and civil-rights pioneer Percy Julian at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25, in the Butler Reception Room on the University’s Chicago campus at 3700 W. 103rd St.

As part of the event, Saint Xavier is hosting an essay contest among area high schoolers. The finalists will read their essays on Julian, and winners will be announced. Chicago schools participating are Morgan Park High School, Percy L. Julian High School, Hales Franciscan High School, Chicago High School for the Agricultural Sciences, and De La Salle Institute.

Prior to showing the 30-minute excerpt at 1 p.m., Melanie Wallace, NOVA senior series producer, will speak about NOVA and how this particular documentary came to life. After the screening, there will be a question-and-answer period and students will present their essays.

“The documentary ‘Forgotten Genius’ is part of an ongoing series called Lives in Science that NOVA has created about great scientists, including Galileo, Archimedes and Einstein,” Wallace said. “We included Percy Julian not only because of his significant contributions to humanity through his scientific work, but also because his life story can serve to inspire a new generation of students to consider careers in science.”

The documentary chronicles the remarkable life of Julian, one of the great African-American scientists of the 20th century. The two-hour documentary airs at 8 p.m. Feb. 6 on WTTW-TV (Channel 11), and NOVA chose Saint Xavier as one of the locations to show a preview excerpt of the documentary.

Julian overcame countless obstacles to become a world-class scientist, a self-made millionaire and a civil-rights pioneer. Yet despite his many achievements, his story is largely unknown. In “Forgotten Genius,” NOVA brings Julian to life through his scientific breakthroughs and gripping biography, with vivid period reenactments based on newly accessible family archives and interviews with dozens of colleagues and relatives. Narrated by Courtney B. Vance and directed by Llewellyn M. Smith, the program stars Tony Award-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson as Percy Julian. Senior executive producer is Paula S. Apsell, director of the WGBH Science Unit and senior executive producer of NOVA.  

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact David Bell at (773) 298-3881 or bell@sxu.edu.

Major funding for “Forgotten Genius” is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, with additional funding provided by The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, the American Chemical Society, American Playhouse, and Mr. and Mrs. William G. Brown. Now in its 34th year of broadcasting, NOVA is produced for PBS by the WGBH Science Unit at WGBH Boston. Funding for NOVA is provided by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and public television viewers.


Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1846, Saint Xavier University was the first Mercy college in the United States and is Chicago’s oldest Catholic university. Serving approximately 5,700 students at its campuses in Chicago, Orland Park and its downtown location, the University offers 35 undergraduate majors; more than 40 graduate program options in arts and sciences, business, education and nursing; and a variety of program options in continuing and professional studies. Recognizing Saint Xavier’s excellence in education, U.S. News and World Report has ranked SXU consistently among the Best Colleges in the Midwest.
Saint Xavier University Media Relations: 773-298-3937
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