Rebecca Skloot, author of the bestselling "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," and members of the Lacks family will speak at Montana State University's 2015 Convocation, scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 26. "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" is the 2015 MSU freshmen book selection.



Convocation is free and open to the public, however members of the community must obtain a ticket through one of the ticket outlets listed. Members of the new freshmen class do not need tickets. Tickets are available beginning June 11 through all Bobcat Ticket outlets including:

Event Information

 Brick Breeden Fieldhouse
Handicapped accessible

Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015

7:30 p.m.

Doors open at 6:30pm
Brick Breeden Fieldhouse







Lacks was an African-American tobacco farmer and the mother of five who died from cervical cancer in 1951 when she was 31 years old. Before she died, cells from her cancerous tumor were harvested and cultured at Johns Hopkins University to create the first known human immortal cell line for medical research. The cells harvested from Lacks behaved differently than other cells that scientists had harvested. Instead of dying quickly, they could be kept alive and multiply in a short time. The line was called HeLa, for the first two initials in Lacks' first and last name. The cells have been used in more than 70,000 medical studies. The cells have been used to make vital contributions to the development of drugs for herpes, leukemia, influenza and Parkinson's disease. The cells have been used in studies on everything from lactose digestion to mosquito mating.

Skloot, an award-winning science and medical writer, published the book in 2010. The book remained on the "New York Times" bestseller list for two years. Members of the Lacks family will join Skloot for a panel discussion following her speech.

"This year's convocation speaker is a master storyteller who will also prompt a lively campus-wide discussion about scientific ethics, cultural diversity and gender rights," said MSU Provost Martha Potvin. "We welcome the community to join us."

MSU's Convocation is the formal welcoming of its incoming class where the university focuses attention on academic affairs. It shows the support of the university and community to help the new students reach their goal of becoming the graduating class of 2019. Skloot's lecture will be MSU's ninth convocation.


Common Reading

In preparation for Montana State University's 2015 convocation, students will read "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks".

Master Class

The Master Class with Michael Sandel will allow students the opportunity to interact with this incredible speaker and author in a more personalized, smaller group setting. All students are welcome to participate in the class.  Click here for the application link.  Deadline for the aplication is Friday, August 17 at 5:00 PM. The Convocation Master Class will take place on Thursday, August 23rd from 3:00-4:00 PM.  Students are asked to read “Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?” by Mr. Sandel in preparation for a lively discussion in the class. 

Convocation Guide

Explore information about Rebessa Skloot  and the common read "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" on the MSU Library 2015 Convocation page.


Members of MSU’s incoming freshman class have reserved seats and will not need tickets to attend the event.


More Information

For more information, please contact:

Martha A. Potvin
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Disabled students wishing to request an accommodation may contact 406-994-2824.