Former U.S. Secretary of Education, host of the nationally syndicated “Morning in America” radio show, and author William J. Bennett will give the Cutchins Distinguished Lecture, “The Promise of America in Challenging Times,” at Virginia Tech on Thursday, March 27, 7:30 p.m., in Burruss Auditorium.

Bennett will draw on his extensive experience in education, government, and the private sector and his insider access to today’s newsmakers to shed light on current political, cultural, and educational issues.

The event is free and open to the public, no tickets needed. Free parking for the event is available around the Drillfield, in the Perry Street lots, and in the Perry Street parking garage near Prices Fork Road. Find more parking information online, or call 540-231-3200.

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Bennett studied philosophy at Williams College, where he received a bachelor’s degree, and at the University of Texas-Austin, where he earned a doctorate. He also earned a law degree at Harvard. He has taught at Boston University, the University of Texas, and Harvard.

Before serving as Secretary of Education under Ronald Reagan, he was chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. He was the nation’s first drug czar under the first President Bush.

Bennett is the author of more than 24 books, including “Is College Worth It?” (2013) and a three-volume set on U.S. history that has been adopted for school use.

A well-known Republican, Bennett has worked closely with Democratic leaders such as Senator Joseph Lieberman to fight the decline of popular culture and to end worldwide religious persecution.

Bennett is currently a senior advisor to Project Lead The Way, which provides training and curriculum for improving STEM education in American schools. He is on the advisory board of online higher education company Udacity and is chief education advisor to Beanstalk Innovation, an international education company. He is also the Washington Fellow of the Claremont Institute.

The Cutchins Distinguished Lecture is sponsored by the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Rice Center for Leader Development and the Pamplin College of Business and is also held in celebration of Founders Day.

The center aims to educate students about leadership and prepare them to be leaders of integrity and ability. It is named in honor of the late W. Thomas Rice, a retired railroad industry executive and former rector of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors. Rice is a member of the Class of 1934, who received his degree in civil engineering. The lecture series is named for the late Clifford A. Cutchins III, a former bank chairman and rector of the Board of Visitors. Cutchins is a member of the Class of 1944, who received his degree in accounting.