Students will soon get a chance to learn how to foster better and lasting relationships from an acclaimed author and television star.

The Women's Coordinating Council will present author and actor Hill Harper to campus for his presentation, "Building Loving, Trusting Relationships," tonight at 7 p.m. in the James R. Cox Auditorium in the Alumni Memorial Building. The event is free and available to all students with a student ID.

Harper is also known as "Dr. Sheldon" on the CBS drama "CSI: NY," for which he has received two NAACP Image Awards. Harper has also appeared in "NYPD Blue," "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "The Sopranos," "ER" and "City of Angels."
WCC member Brittney Woods, a sophomore in food science and technology, proposed this event last year.

"I found this particular program on Harper's website and believed that it identified quite well with our mission and that this was a program that both men and women alike could receive positive, uplifting advice to incorporate into their daily lives," Woods said.

Woods explained that she and the WCC hope students learn about strengthening both current and future relationships.

"We hope that students can gain knowledge not only about how to select a potential partner or enhance their current relationship, but also how to work on first loving themselves in order be equipped to develop emotions for someone else," Woods said.

Cresa Lenox, a freshman in animal science, heard about Harper's event through the Habari newsletter.

"I'm looking forward to him speaking on male and female relations," Lenox said. "And he seems like a very educated and intelligent person."

"Harper is a very relatable individual and has an incredibly impressive background," Woods said. "We believed that he could shed much light on those here at UT and his discussion could provide answers to some of the undying questions that people inherently ponder about the opposite sex."

Harper's program will focus on his perspective on relationships and maintaining healthy ones. As a youth advocate he volunteers and is a spokesperson for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Also, his books, "Letters to a Young Brother," and its companion, "Letters to a Young Sister," focus on perseverance and hope. Both reached the New York Times Best Sellers list. The latter provides the perspective of influential female voices of today, offering advice to young women. They include Harper's friends, such as Gabrielle Union, Michelle Obama and Nikki Giovanni.

Harper has also been selected for three other NAACP Image awards including Outstanding Literary Work: Debut Author.

"He has dealt with a myriad of situations, people, and challenges," Woods said. "He will be an inspiration to students because he expresses how underneath it all, he is still human and desires to share the knowledge that he has acquired over the years with others."

Harper graduated magna cum laude at Brown University. He went on to study law and public administration at Harvard.

"I have been a fan of his for years and I am honored to have him represent the Women's Coordinating Council," Woods said. "I know he will deliver a profound lecture and leave all those in attendance with an insightful message."