Critical Conversations Speaker Series
Beginning fall 2017, Auburn University will welcome distinguished scholars, journalists, and thought leaders to campus as part of the “Critical Conversations” speaker series to share diverse perspectives and ideologies on topics such as inclusion, intellectual diversity, and free speech in higher education.
The campus community is invited to participate in these events and is encouraged to continue the dialogue.
Ideological Differences and Free Speech on Campus
Student Center Ballroom
Doors will open at 3:00
Plan to arrive early as seating is limited
Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy, Harvard Divinity School
Cornel West is a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual. He is Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University and holds the title of Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. He has also taught at Union Theological Seminary, Yale, Harvard, and the University of Paris. West graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy at Princeton. He has written over 20 books and has edited 13. Though he is best known for his classics, Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and for his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, his most recent releases, Black Prophetic Fire and Radical King, were received with critical acclaim.
West is a frequent guest on Real Time with Bill Maher, The Colbert Report, CNN, C-SPAN and Democracy Now! He made his film debut in The Matrix Reloaded, and he was a commentator, along with Ken Wilbur, on the official trilogy released in 2004. He also has appeared in over 25 documentaries and films including Examined Life, Call + Response, Sidewalk, and Stand. Last but certainly not least, he has made three spoken word albums including Never Forget, collaborating with Prince, Jill Scott, Andre 3000, Talib Kweli, KRS-One, and the late Gerald Levert. His spoken word interludes were featured on Terence Blanchard’s Choices, which won the Grand Prix Award in France for Best Jazz Album in 2009; The Cornel West Theory’s Second Rome; Raheem DeVaughn’s Grammy-nominated Love & War: MasterPeace; and most recently on Bootsy Collins’ Tha Funk Capital of the World.
In short, West has a passion to invite a variety of people from all walks of life into his world of ideas in order to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. — a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice.
Robert P. George
McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University
Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He is also the Herbert W. Vaughan Fellow of the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, and has on several occasions been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School. In addition to his academic service, George has served as Chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. He previously served on the President’s Council on Bioethics (2002-2009), and as a presidential appointee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights (1993-1998). He has also been the US member of UNESCO’s World Commission on the Ethics of Science and Technology. He is a former judicial fellow at the Supreme Court of the United States, where he received the Justice Tom C. Clark Award.
George is author of Making Men Moral: Civil Liberties and Public Morality (Oxford University Press, 1993), In Defense of Natural Law (Oxford University Press, 1999), The Clash of Orthodoxies (ISI, 2001) and Conscience and Its Enemies (ISI, 2013). George’s articles and review essays have appeared in the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, the Columbia Law Review, the University of Chicago Law Review, the Review of Politics, the Review of Metaphysics, and the American Journal of Jurisprudence. He has also written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, First Things, the Boston Review, and the Times Literary Supplement.
A graduate of Swarthmore College, George holds degrees in law and theology from Harvard and the degrees of D.Phil., B.C.L., and D.C.L. from Oxford University. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa at Swarthmore and received a Frank Knox Fellowship from Harvard for graduate study in law and philosophy at Oxford. He holds honorary doctorates of law, letters, ethics, science, divinity, humane letters, law and moral values, civil law, and juridical science.
Mell Classroom Building @ RBD Library: Room 2550
Seminal thought leader on unconscious bias and founding partner of Cook Ross
Howard Ross is a lifelong social justice advocate and the founding partner of Cook Ross. He is considered one of the world’s seminal thought leaders on identifying and addressing unconscious bias. Howard authored the Washington Post best seller, Everyday Bias: Identifying and Navigating Unconscious Judgments in Our Daily Lives (published by Rowman and Littlefield in 2014) and ReInventing Diversity: Transforming Organizational Community to Strengthen People, Purpose and Performance, (published by Rowman and Littlefield in conjunction with SHRM in 2011). His new book, Our Search for Belonging: How the Need for Connection is Tearing Our Culture Apart, will be published by Berrett-Koehler in 2018.
Howard has delivered programs in 47 states and over 40 other countries carrying out the work of Cook Ross. His audience has included hundreds of Fortune 500 companies and major institutions within healthcare, government, and nonprofit sectors, in addition to a variety of other industries. He has led programs at Harvard University Medical School, Stanford University Medical School, Johns Hopkins University, the Wharton School of Business, Duke University, Washington University Medical School, and over 20 other colleges and universities.
From 2007–2008, Howard served as the Johnnetta B. Cole Professor of Diversity at Bennett College for Women, the first time a white man had served in such a position at an HBCU. He has been published by the Harvard Business Review, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Fast Company Magazine, Diversity Woman Magazine, Forbes, Fortune, and has been a regular guest on National Public Radio for more than 10 years. Howard has served on numerous nonprofit boards, including the Diversity Advisory Board of the Human Rights Campaign, the board of directors of the Dignity and Respect Campaign, and the board of the directors for the National Women’s Mentoring Network.
In acknowledgement of his significant contributions, Howard was the recipient of the 2009 Operation Understanding Award for Community Service, the 2012 Winds of Change Award from the Forum on Workplace Diversity and Inclusion, the 2013 Diversity Peer Award from Diversity Woman Magazine, the 2014 Catalyst Award from Uptown Professional magazine, the 2014 Catalyst for Change Award from Wake Forest University, and the 2016 Leadership in Diversity Award by the World Human Resources Development Conference in Mumbai, India.
Howard received his bachelor of arts degree in history and education from the University of Maryland and completed postgraduate work in leadership and management at Wheelock College.
Diverse Perspectives on Women Leaders
Doors will open at 3:00
Barbara Pierce Bush
CEO and cofounder, Global Health Corps
Barbara Pierce Bush cofounded Global Health Corps (GHC) in 2009 to mobilize a global community of young leaders to build the movement for health equity. To date, GHC has fostered almost 1,000 young leaders who believe health is a human right and who take an innovative approach to solving some of the world’s biggest global health challenges. In 2015, Bush was recognized as one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business. Previously, she worked at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Red Cross Children’s Hospital in South Africa, UNICEF in Botswana, and the UN World Food Program. Bush is a member of UNICEF’s Next Generation Steering Committee and on the board of directors of Covenant House International, PSI, and the UN’s Social Entrepreneurship Council.
Jenna Bush Hager
Contributing Correspondent for NBC's TODAY
Jenna Hager has seen firsthand how small change can make a large difference in a single life. Currently the chair of UNICEF’s Next Generation, an initiative dedicated to reducing the number of preventable childhood deaths around the world, Hager traveled throughout Latin America and the Caribbean with UNICEF where she saw firsthand the plight faced by the underprivileged. Her experience inspired her to write Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope, a New York Times best seller based on the life of a 17-year-old single mother living with HIV and determined to shield her child from the abuse and neglect that riddled her own childhood.
Hager shares her own stories of creating change in someone’s life and leaves audiences with a call to action on how they too can improve people’s lives in their own community. A contributing correspondent for NBC’s TODAY, Hager shares positive, uplifting messages of regular people doing extraordinary things. Passionate about literacy, education, and improving inner-city schools, Hager was herself a teacher in Baltimore, MD.
In addition to Ana’s Story, she also co-wrote Read All About It! with her mother, former First Lady Laura Bush. Hager and Mrs. Bush recently released a second children’s book, Our Great Big Backyard, which celebrates the Centennial of the National Park Service and encourages children to go outside and explore America’s parks. Hager is currently writing a book of short stories with her sister Barbara Pierce Bush titled Sisters First for release in October 2017. It will take readers on an extraordinary and deeply personal journey behind the scenes of what it is like to be born into a political dynasty, reveal never-before-told stories about their family, and uncover the enduring sisterly bond that kept them sane through it all.
Mell Classroom Building @ RBD Library: Room 2550
Derald Wing Sue
Best-selling author of critically acclaimed book, Microaggressions in Everyday Life
Derald Wing Sue is professor of psychology and education in the Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Teachers College and the School of Social Work, Columbia University. He has served as a training faculty member with the Institute for Management Studies and the Columbia University Executive Training Programs. He was the cofounder and first president of the Asian American Psychological Association, past presidents of the Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity and Race, and the Society of Counseling Psychology.
Dr. Sue is a member of the American Counseling Association, Fellows of the American Psychological Association, and numerous other organizations. Dr. Sue has served as editor of the Journal for Counseling and Development, associate editor of the American Psychologist, editorial board member to Asian Journal of Counselling, and serves on the council of elders for Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology. He is author of over 160 scholarly articles, 20 books, and numerous media productions.
Two of his books, Microaggressions in Everyday Life and Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence are critically acclaimed. As evidence of Dr. Sue’s stature in the field, two studies (1989 and 2012) of multicultural publications and scholars concluded that “Impressively, Derald Wing Sue is without doubt the most influential multicultural scholar in the United States.”
Closed Minds on Campus
New York Times columnist and best-selling author
Frank Bruni has been an Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times since June 2011. In his columns, which appear every Sunday and Wednesday, he reflects on diverse topics including American politics, higher education, gay rights, and his own life as a gay man in a close-knit Italian-American family.
He joined the newspaper in 1995 and has ranged broadly across its pages. He has been a White House correspondent, the chief restaurant critic, a staff writer for the Times Magazine and the Rome bureau chief. He is the author of three New York Times best sellers, the most recent of which, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania, was published in March 2015 to widespread acclaim. His previous best sellers were the 2009 memoir Born Round, about the joys and torments of his eating life, and a 2002 chronicle of George W. Bush’s initial presidential campaign, Ambling into History.
Diverse Perspectives, Civil Discourse, and a Healthy Democracy
Student Center Ballroom
Veteran Democratic political strategist, adjunct professor, author, and syndicated columnist
Veteran Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile is an adjunct professor, author, syndicated columnist, television political commentator, former Vice Chair for Civic Engagement and Voter Participation at the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and former chair of the DNC’s Voting Rights Institute.
Brazile has worked passionately in the rebuilding and recovery efforts in her beloved hometown of New Orleans. Additionally, she loves working with young people, encouraging them to vote, to run for office, and to work within the system to strengthen it. Since 2000, Brazile has lectured at over 200 colleges and universities across the country on such topics as “Inspiring Civility in American Politics,” “Race Relations in the Age of Obama,” “Why Diversity Matters,” and “Women in American Politics.”
She first got involved in politics at the age of nine when she worked to elect a city council candidate who had promised to build a playground in her neighborhood; the candidate won, the swing set was installed, and a lifelong passion for political progress was ignited. Brazile worked on every presidential campaign from 1976 through 2000, when she became the first African American to manage a presidential campaign.
In addition to her work an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, Brazile is the author of the best selling memoir Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics and is on leave from her writing columns. She continues to be on leave with ABC News, where she regularly appears on the Sunday morning show This Morning. She is especially pleased to have made three cameo appearances on CBS’s The Good Wife, and two cameo appearances on the Netflix series House of Cards. She most recently appeared on BET’s Being Mary Jane. Ask her and she’ll tell you that acting, after all, is the key to success in politics.
In 2014, Brazile was appointed by President Obama to serve on to the board of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. In addition, she serves on the National Democratic Institute, the National Institute for Civil Discourse, the BlackAmericaWeb.com Relief Fund, and as co-chair for Democrats for Public Education.
In August 2009, O, The Oprah Magazine chose Brazile as one of its 20 Remarkable Visionaries for the magazine’s first-ever O Power List. In addition, she was named among the 100 Most Powerful Women by Washingtonian magazine, Top 50 Women in America by Essence magazine, and received the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s highest award for political achievement. In 2016, Brazile was awarded Wonk of the Year from the Kennedy Political Union at American University.
Brazile is the proud recipient of honorary doctorate degrees from Louisiana State University, North Carolina A&T State University, Grambling State University, Spelman College, LeMoyne Owen College, Northeastern Illinois University, Medgar Evers College, Morehouse Medical College, Bethune Cookman University, Thomas Jefferson University, and Xavier University of Louisiana, the only historically black, Catholic institution of higher education in the United States.
She is founder and managing director of Brazile & Associates, a general consulting, grassroots advocacy, and training firm based in Washington, DC.
Last but never least, she is a proud native of New Orleans, Louisiana. In the aftermath of the two catastrophic hurricanes that made landfall in the Gulf region, Brazile was appointed by former Governor Kathleen Blanco to serve on the Louisiana Recovery Board to work for the rebuilding of the state and to advocate for the Gulf recovery on the national stage. Brazile was recently appointed by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to serve on the Tricentennial Commission.
Brazile assumed the role of interim chair of the Democratic National Committee shortly before the start of the historic 2016 Democratic National Convention that nominated Secretary Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.
Legendary ABC News White House Correspondent, from 1973-2014
Ann Compton has always been a pioneer. As the first woman assigned to cover the White House on network television and with 41 years on the air for ABC News, her longevity and impact are unparalleled. After retiring from daily coverage in 2014, Compton reignited her legendary career by returning to ABC to cover the 2016 political conventions, as well as accepting a fellowship at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government focusing on media coverage of the 2016 election. She now combines her personal experiences on the White House beat with fresh scholarship from the prestigious Miller Center for presidential studies at the University of Virginia.
Compton’s career at ABC News spanned seven presidents and 10 presidential campaigns. Assigned to the White House in 1974, she reported for ABC News broadcasts from Washington and around the globe, traveling with Presidents, Vice Presidents, and First Ladies. President Barack Obama announced her retirement when calling on her at a West Wing news conference saying, “Ann Compton, everybody here knows, is not only the consummate professional but is also just a pleasure to get to know.”
Compton was traveling with President George W. Bush on September 11, 2001, and was the only broadcast reporter to remain on Air Force One to report on behalf of all the press during the chaotic hours following the terrorist attacks, when the President was unable to return directly to Washington. For that coverage, which she considers the most significant story of her career, Compton received special recognition in the awards bestowed on ABC’s coverage, including an Emmy, a Peabody, and the Silver Baton from the DuPont awards at Columbia University.
Her colleagues elected Compton as president of the White House Correspondents’ Association for 2007–2008. She was chairman of the Radio-Television Correspondents’ Association on Capitol Hill in 1987–1988. The Commission on Presidential Debates selected Compton to serve as a debate panelist in 1988 and 1992. Additionally, she has been inducted into six halls of fame and has received five honorary university degrees.
Compton is married to Dr. William Hughes, a physician in Washington, DC, and they are the parents of three sons and a daughter and the proud grandparents of three granddaughters. Compton says her most valued award is a golden statuette bestowed by the National Mothers’ Day committee naming her a Mother of the Year in 1988.
Free Speech on Campus
Mell Classroom Building @ RBD Library: Room 2550
Executive Director of Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)
Robert L. Shibley, executive director of Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), is a native of Toledo, Ohio, and a graduate of Duke University and Duke University School of Law. He is the author of Twisting Title IX (Encounter Books). Shibley’s experience serving as the managing editor of a college newspaper that frequently decried (and faced) censorship and bias led him to a career defending the rights of college and university students and faculty members. Since starting at FIRE in 2003, Shibley has aided students and faculty members at hundreds of colleges and universities.
Along with traveling to various campuses to speak about First Amendment issues, Shibley has represented FIRE on The O’Reilly Factor, CNN Tonight, Stossel, Fox and Friends, and Lou Dobbs Tonight, in national and international radio and TV interviews, and in op-eds in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Washington Post, and TIME, as well as the New York Post, Boston Globe, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Reason, National Review, and many other newspapers and magazines. He is a member of the bar in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Shibley and his family live in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, home to the Duke Blue Devils and several other, lesser intercollegiate athletic teams.
Women, Diversity, and STEM
Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code and Author
Reshma Saujani is the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in technology and prepare young women for jobs of the future. In her groundbreaking book, Women Who Don’t Wait in Line, Saujani advocates for a new model of female leadership focused on embracing risk and failure, promoting mentorship and sponsorship, and boldly charting your own course—personally and professionally.
After years of working as an attorney and supporting the Democratic party as an activist and fundraiser, Saujani left her private-sector career behind and surged onto the political scene as the first Indian-American woman in the country to run for US Congress. Following the highly publicized race, she stayed true to her passion for public service, becoming deputy public advocate of New York City, and most recently running a spirited campaign for public advocate on a platform of creating educational and economic opportunities for women and girls, immigrants, and those who have been sidelined in the political process. A true political entrepreneur, Saujani has been fearless in her efforts to disrupt both politics and technology to create positive change.
Saujani is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Yale Law School. She was recently named to CNBC’s "Next List"; Crain’s "40 Under 40"; Fortune’s "40 Under 40"; Forbes’ "Most Powerful Women Changing the World"; Fast Company’s "100 Most Creative People"; Ad Age’s "Creativity 50"; and Business Insider’s "50 Women Who Are Changing the World." She has also been recognized as one of the "50 Most Powerful Women in New York" by the New York Daily News, as the Wall Street Journal "Technology Innovator of the Year," and as an AOL/PBS "Next MAKER."
Intellectual Diversity and Free Expression of Ideas on College Campuses
Mell Classroom Building @ RBD Library: Room 2550
President of the National Association of Scholars
Peter W. Wood is president of the National Association of Scholars. He is the author of A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now (2007), Diversity: The Invention of a Concept (2003), and The Architecture of Intellectual Freedom (2016). He is co-author What Does Bowdoin Teach? (2013), Common Core: Yea and Nay (2014), Sustainability: Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism (2015).
He is a graduate of Haverford College (1975), Rutgers University (1977), and the University of Rochester, from which he received a Ph.D. in anthropology in 1987. He previously served as provost of The King’s College in New York City, and as the president’s chief of staff at Boston University, where he was also a tenured member of the anthropology department.
Presented by the Auburn University Office of the Provost and Office of Inclusion and Diversity.
Events are free and open to the public.