Arne Duncan Colloquium Will Highlight Jandon Center Celebration

Smith College will celebrate the new Jandon Center for Community Engagement with a Presidential Colloquium by former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, in Weinstein Auditorium.

Duncan’s talk—titled “What I’ve Learned From Children”—will offer an overview of the lessons that the longtime policy leader has learned through his career in education.

The event is the inaugural Jane Grossman Cecil ’50 Memorial Lecture, designed to bring leading thinkers about urban education to Smith.

Denys Candy, director of the Jandon Center, says he’s delighted to be able to highlight the Jandon Center dedication with a talk by Arne Duncan.

“A key component of the vision for the Cecil family’s gift naming the Jandon Center was an annual lecture series that would prompt conversation about critical issues in education, especially urban education,” said Candy. “To inaugurate this series with a presentation by Arne Duncan—one of the nation’s leading educational policy makers—is a great opportunity for our community. I’m eager to see the conversation that his lecture sparks.”

Duncan was appointed U.S. Secretary of Education by President Barack Obama in 2009 after serving for eight years as superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools. One of the longest serving Secretaries of Education—and, by many accounts, one of the most influential—he expanded the federal role in U.S. schools, establishing new, higher academic standards and teacher evaluations. He spoke frequently about the importance of early childhood education and, according to the Washington Post, “tried to straddle the deep national divide about the best way to improve public education, working between those who believe that competition, accountability and market forces are the best route and others who argue for heavier investment to address the many needs to poor children who increasingly fill public schools.”

Since March 2016, Duncan has been managing partner at the Palo Alto–based education group Emerson Collective.

An open house in the Jandon Center in Wright Hall will precede and follow Duncan’s lecture. From 4 to 6:30 p.m., guests can talk with students, faculty and staff who are active in the Jandon Center’s initiatives in education, activism, human services and community development. Guests can review posters displaying student work, and Jandon Center staff will be on hand to answer questions.

“It’s a great way to celebrate a new academic year and the new ways the Jandon Center supports students, faculty and community partners as they tackle complex issues together,” Candy said.