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Immigration series continues this week

The Riley Institute and OLLI present "Chasing the American Dream: The Economics of Immigration." Image courtesy of

A Furman University economist and a successful hotelier from Iraq are among several speakers who will discuss “Chasing the American Dream: The Economics of Immigration,” Thursday, Sept. 6, 6:30-8 p.m., in Shaw Hall of the Melvin and Dollie Younts Conference Center on Furman’s campus.

The Sept. 6 session is the second in a three-part series titled “Who Gets to be American? Immigration and the Fight for America’s Future.” The cost is $15 per session. Registration is required.

Furman economist and Dean of Faculty Ken Peterson will give an overview about the impact immigrants have on the U.S. economy. From 2004-2012, Peterson was chair of the Department of Economics, and during the same years, was director of urban studies at Furman. His teaching interests include microeconomic theory, urban economics, and population economics.

Basil Bacall, an Iraqi immigrant and founder and CEO of Elite Hospitality Group in Detroit, will share his personal story of entrepreneurship and success. Bacall arrived in Detroit in 1982 at age 17. He worked in a drugstore while earning his GED and a college degree, became a pilot for Northwest Airlines, and went on to build a successful series of hotels.

Following his remarks, Bacall will be joined by Anthony Herrera, executive director of Furman’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Julie Smithwick, executive director of PASOs. Herrera most recently led a team responsible for Toyota Motor North America’s Executive Succession & Leadership Development. Smithwick works with Latino communities in 29 South Carolina counties where she advocates for systemic changes to improve health, early childhood development, and social services for Latinos.

The series continues Thursday, Sept. 13 with “The Changing Face of America: Impact on the 2018 Election and Beyond.”

A detailed schedule of events for the series, along with speaker bios and registration information, is available at and by contacting OLLI at 864-294-2998.

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