Steve Wozniak Named 23rd William W. Siebens American Heritage Lecturer

Co-founder of Apple Computer Inc., Silicon Valley icon, and philanthropist Steve Wozniak will participate in an on-campus question-and-answer program with a panel of students from Buena Vista University.

Buena Vista University has announced that Steve Wozniak, who designed Apple’s first line of products, will be the 23rd William W. Siebens American Heritage Lecture laureate on Friday, Oct. 4.

Wozniak joins a list of preeminent American Heritage lecturers that has included former world leaders, heads of state, and others who have reached the highest levels of accomplishment and recognition in their fields. 

“Hosting Steve Wozniak on campus is a significant, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our students to hear from such a forward-thinking, innovative leader in our country,” says BVU President Joshua D. Merchant. “We are looking forward to hearing his messages on giving back, as well as his insights on global technology through student-led conversations.” 

While on campus, Wozniak will participate in an afternoon question-and-answer program with a panel of BVU students, which will be followed by a formal evening lecture to invited regional leaders in the fields of business, technology, and education.

Students will be selected for the panel through a competitive process in the spring. They will then work with a faculty moderator and faculty coaches to research the speaker, and when they return to school in the fall, develop a list of questions for the event. 

Wozniak, or “The Woz” as he is better known, helped shape the computing industry with his design of Apple I, Apple II, and his influence on the popular Macintosh. In partnership with Steve Jobs, Wozniak founded Apple Computer Inc. with the Apple I personal computer in 1976. The following year, he introduced the Apple II personal computer featuring a central processing unit, a keyboard, color graphics, and a floppy disk drive. His work in the late 1970s ignited the personal computing revolution, creating one of the most influential companies in history. In 1981, Wozniak returned to UC Berkeley to complete his degree in electrical engineering/computer science. 

For his achievements at Apple, Wozniak was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President Ronald Reagan in 1985. In 2000, he was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame and was awarded the prestigious Heinz Award for Technology, The Economy and Employment for single-handedly designing the first personal computer and lighting the fires of excitement in mathematics and electronics for grade school students and their teachers. 

Wozniak has been involved in various business and philanthropic ventures, focusing primarily on computer capabilities in schools and stressing hands-on learning and encouraging creativity for students. Making investments of both his time and resources in education, he adopted the Los Gatos School District, providing students and teachers with hands-on teaching and donations of state-of-the-art technology equipment. He founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation and was the founding sponsor of the Tech Museum, Silicon Valley Ballet, and the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose. 

Wozniak is currently involved with a number of startups including WozU in the education sector and EQUI Global in the blockchain sector. He is a published author with the release of his New York Times best-selling autobiography, iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It. In 2014, he was awarded the Hoover Medal, an honor presented for “outstanding extra-career services by engineers to humanity” and was inducted into the IndustryWeek Manufacturing Hall of Fame. 

In previous years, BVU students have had the opportunity to pose questions to the American Heritage speakers, including Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush; Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, Shimon Peres, Benazir Bhutto, and Tony Blair; Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board; and Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State. 

The William W. Siebens American Heritage Lecture Series was endowed by the late Dr. Harold Walter Siebens, an Iowa-born entrepreneur and philanthropist, and named in honor of his son. This series was established in 1989 to provide the BVU campus community, Iowa, and the Midwest with access to prominent world figures discussing current issues underlying American freedoms.