Judy Woodruff speaks at the Maverick Lecture Series at Trinity University in 2019.
Judy Woodruff speaks at the Maverick Lecture Series at Trinity University in 2019. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Maria Hinojosa, host of the National Public Radio show Latino USA, is bound to attract a diverse audience when she appears at Trinity University’s Laurie Auditorium on April 29 to deliver the 12th annual Maverick Lecture. The anchor and executive producer of the Peabody Award-winning program is a familiar voice to NPR listeners nationwide and especially appreciated in San Antonio, a city that values its Hispanic roots and culture.

We have William “Bill” Scanlan Jr. and his older brother, John Scanlan, to thank for Hinojosa’s appearance in San Antonio. Bill lives here while John lives in Austin, but the two brothers, both attorneys, trace their Texas lineage to the early 18th century and their mother Salomé Ballí and her family’s Spanish land grant ranch in the Rio Grande Valley. John and Bill grew up in a bicultural world in Brownsville, speaking English and Spanish.

They eventually established the William and Salomé Scanlan Foundation to honor their parents’ commitment to civil liberties, education, the environment and Hispanic history and culture.

That led to the 2007 founding of the Maverick Lecture Series at Trinity University, an idea Bill said came in conversations with San Antonio journalist Jan Jarboe Russell and poet Naomi Shihab Nye. They were seeking to honor the life and work of the late Maury Maverick Jr., an outspoken San Antonio lawyer, Marine veteran of World War II, and former Texas legislator whose civil rights work and many years as a columnist for the San Antonio Express-News made him one of the state’s most respected liberal voices.

The Maverick Lecture speakers are chosen for their commitment to issues that defined Maverick’s place in American civic discourse, including challenges to constitutional liberty, defense of the First Amendment, issues of poverty and race, and the moral requirements to justify war.

Maverick: The American Name That Became a Legend, a history of the Maverick family in Texas written by Lewis Fisher and published by Trinity University Press, will be on sale at the lecture.

“I didn’t know Maury well,” said John, “but both Bill and Maury served in the military, and later Maury became Bill’s mentor. They were very close, and both shared the same deep belief in democracy. I, too, appreciate those values.”

This year’s lecture will be the first since 2019, when Judy Woodruff, anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour, appeared here. The pandemic forced the cancellation of the lecture in 2020 and 2021.

The first Maverick Lecture was held in 2008 when former New York Times investigative reporter Seymour Hersh delivered the inaugural talk.

“At the beginning, I got in touch with Seymour Hersh and did all that initial work myself, and then Trinity began to provide me with a list of possible speakers and it became much more streamlined,” Bill recalled in an interview. “I would visit with Kay Casey at Trinity, and then I’d talk with Jan and Naomi and we’d settle on a great speaker each year.”

Casey is the university’s assistant vice president for alumni relations and development.

Since then, speakers have ranged from author and New Yorker writer and foreign correspondent Robin Wright to author and war correspondent Sebastian Junger.

Trinity’s Laurie Auditorium over the past two decades has become home to some of the most recognizable names in U.S. politics, letters and the arts appearing as speakers, underwritten by a number of donors and their legacy gifts. The lectures are free and open to the public and often attract audiences of 3,000 or more. Click here for a complete listing of the annual lecture series.

William Scanlan speaks about a textile in his collection at the Witte Museum’s <i>Orale! The Magical Art of Oaxaca</i> exhibit in August of last year.
William Scanlan speaks about a textile in his collection at the Witte Museum’s Orale! The Magical Art of Oaxaca exhibit in August of last year. Credit: Nick Wagner / San Antonio Report

Last year the Scanlan brothers decided to endow the Maverick Lecture at Trinity to assure the annual event will live on into the future.

“I am very pleased, as is my brother, with the Maverick Lecture, its history, and the people who we have brought to San Antonio and the values they represent, and I know my parents would be very pleased,” Bill said. “And we are pleased it will continue on now into the future.”

Trinity University President Danny Anderson credited the series with attracting speakers unafraid to address controversial issues.

“Through the Maverick Lecture, Bill and John Scanlan support freedom of speech to explore topics that may be controversial,” Anderson said. “This kind of open exploration of differences over ideas can allow us to transcend divisions as we all learn to practice deep intellectual curiosity about our society.”

Hinojosa’s talk is titled “Latinos in the Media.” Audience members will be invited to pose questions at the conclusion of her talk. The event is free and open to the public and will begin at 7:30 p.m. For those unable to attend, the Maverick Lecture will be livestreamed at live.trinity.edu.

William Scanlan Jr. is a financial supporter of the San Antonio Report. For a full list of individual members, click here.

Robert Rivard

Robert Rivard is co-founder and columnist at the San Antonio Report.