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Presidential Colloquium Series

The Presidential Colloquium regularly features influential thought leaders in a wide range of fields—from poets and writers to economists and policy experts—to share their expertise, offer insights, and inspire discourse on key social, political and global topics that call for our attention. Come discover, learn, ask questions and engage in the conversation. Lectures are free and open to the public.

Past Events

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Black America Since MLK

Monday, March 27, 2017, 4:30 p.m.
Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic and institution builder, Gates has authored or co-authored more than 20 books and created more than a dozen documentary films, including Wonders of the African World, African American Lives, Faces of America, Black in Latin America and Finding Your Roots, his groundbreaking genealogy series for PBS. A member of the first class awarded “genius grants” by the MacArthur Foundation in 1981, in 1998 he became the first African American scholar to be awarded the National Humanities Medal.

Robert Kegan

Robert Kegan

Tuesday, February 28, 2017, 4:30 p.m.
Weinstein Auditorium

Robert Kegan is a psychologist who teaches, researches, writes and consults about adult development, adult learning and professional development. His work explores the possibility and necessity of ongoing psychological transformation in adulthood; the fit between adult capacities and the hidden demands of modern life; and the evolution of consciousness in adulthood and its implications for supporting adult learning, professional development, and adult education. A licensed clinical psychologist and practicing therapist, Kegan lectures widely and consults in the area of professional development.

Rachel Maddow

Reflections on the 2016 Election

Rachel Maddow

Monday, January 23, 2017, 10 a.m.
John M. Greene Hall

Rachel Maddow is a political commentator who rose to national prominence after launching her career on local radio. On her nightly television program, MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” Maddow daily analyzes top headlines from the worlds of politics, current events, sports, science, health, crime and the absurd. Her interviews with newsmakers have been described as spotlighting “the headlines, and the politics behind the headlines.” Maddow was the speaker at Smith’s 2010 commencement ceremony.

Ana Navarro

Ana Navarro

Tuesday, January 24, 2017, 5:30 p.m.
John M. Greene Hall

Strategist and commentator Ana Navarro is one of the leading Hispanic Republican political voices in the United States. A political commentator on CNN, ABC and Telemundo, she frequently comments on political issues and current affairs in national and international print media. A native of Nicaragua and a graduate of the University of Miami, she has served as ambassador to the United Nations Human Right Commission and was a fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics. She was a member of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s transition team and administration in 1998–99, and was the national Hispanic co-chair for the presidential campaigns of John McCain in 2008 and Gov. Jon Huntsman in 2012.

Presidential Colloquium Speaker Mahzarin Banaji

Mahzarin Banaji

Workshop on implicit Bias

Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People

Friday, October 28, 2016, 2 p.m.
Sweeney Concert Hall, Sage Hall

Mahzarin Banaji is the Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics at Harvard University. With social psychologists Anthony Greenwald and Brian Nosek, she maintains an educational website, Project Implicit, designed to create awareness about unconscious bias. In 2016 the Association for Psychological Science named Banaji one of its William James Fellows, an award given to outstanding contributors to scientific psychology.

Presidential Colloquium Speaker Arne Duncan

Arne Duncan

Jane Grossman Cecil '50 Memorial Lecture

What I’ve Learned From Children

Wednesday, September 21, 2016, 5 p.m.
Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall

Arne Duncan was appointed U.S. Secretary of Education by President Barack Obama in 2009 and served in that position until early 2016. He previously served as superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools. He is a managing partner at the Palo Alto–based education group Emerson Collective.

Presidential Colloquium Speaker Patti Saris

The Honorable Patti B. Saris

Constitution Day Lecture

Mass Incarceration and Criminal Justice Reform

Thursday, September 15, 2016, 4:30 p.m.
Neilson Browsing Room

Patti B. Saris has served as a United States district judge for the District of Massachusetts since 1994 and as chief judge of the district court since 2013. She has been a member and chair of the United States Sentencing Commission since 2010. For Smith’s annual Constitution Day lecture, Judge Saris will speak about the problem of overincarceration in the United States as well as her work on the Sentencing Commission.