1. It used to be said she was once more popular than her husband, and things probably haven’t changed since George W. Bush left office. Laura Bush will visit Alumni Arena at 8 p.m. as the latest speaker in the University at Buffalo Distinguished Speakers Series. The former first lady, known as a champion of children’s education, human rights and health care initiatives, didn’t court controversy while her husband was in office. But her autobiography, “Spoken From the Heart,” showed her progressive side. It’ll be interesting to hear what she says less than a month before Election Day 2012.
2. Students at Hoover Middle School in the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District will be among those across the country to join the PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center in observing Unity Day, a day dedicated to bullying education and prevention. Students will wear orange to signify their commitment to end bullying and sign a petition titled, “The End of Bullying Begins With Me.”
3. The work of former Larkin Co. art director and illustrator Charles Rohrbach, 1898-1965, will be highlighted starting today in a new exhibit in the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society Museum. “The Comprehensive Artist: Charles Rohrbach” exhibit will be displayed in the Community Gallery of the Historical Society headquarters on Nottingham Court at Elmwood Avenue until Jan. 6. The free opening reception runs from 5:30 to 8 p.m.
4. An elegant cocktail party in the Town Ballroom, of all places? That’s what’s on the bill for tonight’s gathering, “Young Audiences Goes to Town,” to benefit arts learning programs. The event runs from 6 to 9:30 in the nightclub at 681 Main St. that’s better known for cutting-edge music shows. It costs $50 and features the Young Audiences annual awards presentation, honoring achievement in the field of arts and education. The latter part of the evening includes a performance by contemporary dance company LehrerDance. Tickets can be purchased online at www.yawny.org/town.
5. Look good ... and feel better – it’s for a beautiful cause. Advanced Body Care, 5132 Transit Road, Lancaster, and Mane Xpressions Salon, 6312 Robinson Road, Lockport, are joining hundreds of salons across the country today in a haircut marathon organized by Sexy Hair, a hair-care manufacturer, in support of Look Good Feel Better, the nonprofit that helps women being treated for cancer deal with appearance issues. Stylists will cut your hair in return for a $10 contribution to the cause.
6. The city’s Zoning Board of Appeals gets its say when it meets today about the neighborhood tumult over the proposal for a new Panera Bread on Elmwood Avenue. To date, the restaurant – targeted for the site of a Blockbuster store – has received approval from the Planning Board. The Common Council’s Legislation Committee decided to send the proposal to the full Council, without recommendation. Current plans for the Elmwood Village restaurant call for a tiled exterior and removal of an exterior sign on a pole. The landlord for the Blockbuster outlet, the Benchmark Group, said it has been notified by the video chain’s headquarters that the store will close, though that date is uncertain.
7. Internationally renowned historian Eric Foner will present a lecture based on his 2011 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery,” at 1 p.m. in Genesee Community College’s Stuart Steiner Theater on the Batavia campus. The Columbia University professor will be available to sign copies of his book immediately after his presentation. Foner’s appearance is part of a monthlong celebration of Lincoln that includes a display of oversized replicas of the president’s personal journals, official documents, photos and other printed materials in the Alfred O’Connell Library. The exhibit, by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, is funded by the National Endowment of the Humanities.