FAYETTEVILLE — Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be the spring speaker in the Distinguished Lecture Series at the University of Arkansas, the school announced Thursday.

Rice, secretary of state under President George W. Bush, is scheduled to speak March 5 at 7 p.m. in Barnhill Arena. The lecture is free and open to the public, and no tickets are needed to attend.

"The Distinguished Lecture Committee has been working for several years to bring Dr. Rice to campus," Tyler Priest, co-chair of the committee, said in a release. "Students have told us consistently that she is at the top of the list of people they want to speak here. We’re very excited that this is going to happen."

A native of Birmingham, Ala., Rice is an acknowledged expert on Russia and foreign affairs. In 1993, she became Stanford University’s provost and was the institution’s chief budget and academic officer for six years.

From January 2005-2009, Rice served as the nation’s 66th secretary of state, the second woman and first African American woman to hold the post. From 2001-2005, she served as national security adviser to Bush, the first woman to hold the position.

In 2009, Rice returned to teach at Stanford University, where she is a professor of political science and also the Denning Professor in Global Business and the Economy in the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

The UA’s Distinguished Lecture Series is a student-sponsored program. Speakers are chosen by a committee of students, faculty and staff, and the events are funded by a student-approved fee, appropriated by the university’s Programs Allocation Board.