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President’s Lecture Series

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The President’s Lecture Series was established in 2002 and consists of several lectures each year by eminent speakers in the sciences, arts, humanities, and international relations. Lectures are free and open to the public.

For more information, please call 508-793-7320.


April 11, 2018 — 5 p.m. in Jefferson 320, Jefferson Academic Center
Sir Michael Marmot, Professor of Epidemiology at University College London
“The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World”

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October 12, 2016 — 3 p.m. in Jefferson 320, Jefferson Academic Center
Dr. Sarah Sewall, Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights
“Issues and Careers at the Nexus of Human Rights and Security”

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April 15, 2016
Ned Blackhawk, a member of the Te-moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada, and professor of History and American Studies at Yale University

“Colonial Genocides in Native North America – Varying Methods and Approaches,” part of the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies’ Symposium on Indigenous Identity and Mass Violence in North America

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February 26, 2016
Naomi Klein, journalist, climate activist, and author of This Changes Everything
A new Earth conversation Keynote Address for the second annual Climate Change Teach-In (March 23, 2016)

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February 18, 2016
Doug Rauch, Founder and President, Daily Table; CEO, Conscious Capitalism, Inc.; and former president of Trader Joe’s
“A Social Entrepreneur’s Approach to Hunger and Wasted Food”

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October 21, 2015
Joseph “Yossie” Hollander, Co-Founder, Fuel Freedom Foundation
“‘PUMP The Movie will change your attitude about fuel forever”

Right now we have the ability to change our country’s future. PUMP The Movie is an important new movie that shows how you can help end our oil addiction, change the rules of the game, and open the market to cleaner, cheaper, American-made replacement fuels.

Press release

October 8, 2015
Robert “Bob” Parris Moses, Founder and President, The Algebra Project, Inc.
“We” the Two-Letter Pronoun that Confounds the Nation

“We the People . . .”

What was the reach of that “We” in the 1787 Constitution?
The 1870 Constitution?
What is its reach in the 2015 Constitution?
What would it take to expand its reach to include the nation’s school children?

Press release
Lecture news release
Moses lecture

April 2, 2015
John G. O’Brien, The Jane and William Mosakowski Distinguished Professor of Higher Education, The Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise
“Whither Health Reform?”

No part of our society or economy is changing as dramatically as the field of health. Whether it is consolidation of hospital systems, advances in medical technology, changes in how medical care is paid for, or greater emphasis on wellness and prevention, profound and disruptive change is underway. Distinguished Mosakowski Professor John G. O’Brien, former CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care and the Cambridge Health Alliance, and one of America’s leading advocates for health care reform, will share his observations on what is happening to America’s health system and offer some thoughts on what may happen next and what it means for all of us.

O’Brien lecture

March 11, 2015
David Goodtree, Global Venture Partner for OurCrowd and Co-Founder of the New England Water Innovation Network (NEWIN)
“Water Scarcity: Geopolitical Threat or Technology Opportunity?”

David Goodtree is a frequent speaker on the innovation economy, testifying before the U.S. Congress about water technology. He is co-founder of NEWIN, an industry association serving the multibillion-dollar water technology industry. He is a founder and co-organizer of the annual industry gathering, the Symposium on Water Innovation in Massachusetts, and produced the “Massachusetts Water Industry Market Map” to showcase the industry’s depth and breadth. Goodtree led the Massachusetts Water Innovation Mission to Israel and co-organized the “W.E.T. Revolution Competition” to highlight innovative water technology companies.

Press release
Lecture news release


November 18, 2014
Eric Schwarz, author and Co-Founder/Former CEO of Citizen Schools
“The Opportunity Equation: How a shadow education system outside of school is growing America’s achievement gap and what we can do about it”

Eric Schwarz is the author of The Opportunity Equation: How Citizen Teachers Are Combating the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools. He was instrumental in creating Citizen Schools, which deploys full-time AmeriCorps members (recent college graduates) and volunteer “Citizen Teachers” to teach extended-day classes in engineering, law, business, journalism, the arts and more, in 12 school districts across 7 states.

Press release
Lecture news release

October 29, 2014
The Klemperer Trio – Gordon Back, Piano; Ronald Crutcher, Violoncello; and Erika Klemperer, Violin

Formed in 1980, The Klemperer Trio is a chamber ensemble of exceptional musicianship, with a repertoire spanning musical styles from classical to contemporary. They have performed to critical acclaim in the United States and Europe. The trio consists of Erika Klemperer, former professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and principal player in several leading London Chamber Orchestras; Ronald Crutcher, former President of Wheaton College and first cellist to receive the doctor of musical art degree from Yale; and Gordon Back, Professor and Fellow of the Guildhall School of Music, London.

Klemperer Trio program

September 30, 2014
Junot Díaz, fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Junot Díaz is the author of the critically acclaimed DrownThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist. Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey, he is a graduate of Rutgers College. Díaz is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award. He is the co-founder of Voices of Our Nation Workshop.

Press release
Lecture news release

February 4, 2014
Daniel Schrag, Director of the Harvard University Center for the Environment
“The Anthropocene and Its Discontents: Climate Change and the Future of the Earth System”

What is the science of climate change and the scope of the challenge we face? Professor Daniel Schrag orients us to climate challenges and the question of timescale in which they are occurring. This event is also part of Embracing Failure, the Higgins School’s Dialogue Symposium for Spring 2014.

Press release
Lecture news release
Schrag Lecture


November 14, 2013
Jane Mendillo, President and Chief Executive Officer of Harvard Management Company
“Personal Reflections on Leadership and Career”

Jane Mendillo discusses leadership lessons, stories, successes, and challenges that she has encountered through her career running Harvard University’s and Wellesley College’s investment portfolios, as well as her earlier career and life experience.

Press release


February 13, 2012
Melissa Harris-Perry, Professor of Political Science at Tulane University, author, and television host on MSNBC
“Black is… Complicated”

Melissa Harris-Perry asks important questions in this Difficult Dialogues lecture, co-sponsored by the President’s Lecture Series. Harris-Perry, author of Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America (Yale University Press 2011), explores and confronts challenges that African Americans, and specifically African American women, face in the modern world concerning agency and political voice.

Press release
Lecture news release

October 11, 2012
Charles Himmelberg, Head of Global Credit Strategy for Goldman Sachs’ Global Investment Research Division
“The Economic Road Ahead: Implications for Markets”

Charles Himmelberg explores financial crises across the world from both a domestic and global perspective, highlighting the idea that many answers lie in the intricacies of interdependence.
Press release


October 4, 2011
Dr. Jessie Gruman, President of the Center for Advancing Health, health care author, and expert on patient engagement
“That’s Not What I Wanted to Hear! Evidence-Based Medicine and Our Hard Choices”

Dr. Gruman’s expertise draws from a wealth of experience, including her own treatment for four cancer diagnoses, as well as surveys, peer-reviewed research, and interviews with patients and caregivers. From this rich foundation, she shares how she advocates for policies and practices to help people overcome the challenges they face in finding good care.

Press release
Gruman lecture


February 26, 2010
Laura Nader, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley 
“Energy, Environment, and the Commons: The specialist and the generalist”

October 18, 2010
Nicholas Carr, writer
“The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains”

Press release
Carr lecture


September 24, 2009
Kevin R. Johnson, expert on immigration, race, and civil rights law
“Opening the Floodgates: Why America Needs to Rethink Its Borders and Immigration Laws”

Johnson lecture

November 21, 2009
Sander Gilman, Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Director of the Program in Psychoanalytical Studies and the Health Sciences Humanities Initiative at Emory University
“Electrotherapy Then and Now: Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Treatments in Psychiatry”


January 22, 2008
David W. Orr, renowned scholar of environmental politics and design
“Some Like it Hot . . . But Lots More Don’t; The Changing Climate of U.S. Politics”

Orr lecture

September 18, 2008
Lewis Hyde, poet, essayist, translator, and cultural critic
“Culture as Commonwealth; Why Art & Ideas Should Be Held In Common”

Hyde lecture

October 14, 2008
T. Alexander Aleinikoff, Dean of the Georgetown University Law Center and Executive Vice President of Georgetown University
“Global Law in the U.S. Legal System: Friend or Foe?”

November 13, 2008
Michael Dukakis, former Governor of Massachusetts
“Reality-Based Leadership: Putting Ideas Into Action”

Dukakis lecture


March 21, 2007
Dr. Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, Charles Warren Professor of History of American Education at Harvard University
“Education and Public Enterprise: A Necessary Relationship?”

Lagemann lecture

April 26, 2007
Dr. Frank Wilczek, Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics at MIT and Nobel Prize recipient
“Putting It All Together”

Wilczek lecture

September 10, 2007
John Holdren, Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy and Director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and President and Director of the Woods Hole Research Center
“Science, Technology and the Sustainability Challenge”

Holdren lecture

October 1, 2007
Anne Fadiman, Francis Writer in Residence at Yale University
“The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down”

Fadiman lecture


October 3, 2006
Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize-winning author 
“Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World”

Kidder lecture


April 6, 2005
Alice Rivlin, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
“Fiscal Sanity: Why it Matters and How to Restore It”


April 28, 2005
Randolph M. Nesse, M.D, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at University of Michigan; Research Professor for the Research Center for Group Dynamics, Institute for Social Research; Director, ISR Evolution and Human Adaptation Program
“Darwinian Medicine: Why isn’t the body better designed?”

Nesse lecture

Oct. 17, 2005
Joseph Wilson, former ambassador
“The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity”

Wilson lecture


March 25, 2004
Professor Philip Morgan, Johns Hopkins University
“The Early Caribbean and the Atlantic World: A Microcosmic View”

September 14, 2004
Robert Pinsky, former Poet Laureate, Professor of Creative Writing at Boston University
Poetry reading to kick off the Worcester Poetry Fall Festival

Pinsky lecture


February 4, 2003
Andrei Kozyrev, Boris Yeltsin’s Foreign Minister (1991-1996) and Deputy in the Russian Parliament
“Putin’s Foreign Policy—Has Russia Joined the West?”

March 27, 2003
Edward Hirsch, President of the Guggenheim Foundation, award-winning poet, and MacArthur Fellow
Inaugurated the Higgins Modern Poetry Series by reading some of his poetry and discussing the poet’s craft

Hirsch lecture

September 24, 2003
Charles Dunbar, Ambassador 
“Squaring the Circle: U.S. Policy in the Middle East”

November 4, 2003
Lawrence M. Krauss, Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics, Professor of Astronomy and Chair of the Physics Department at Case Western Reserve University
“Einstein’s Biggest Blunder? A Cosmic Mystery Story”


November 6, 2002
Stuart Eizenstat, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury during the Clinton Administration; former Ambassador to the European Union
“Imperfect Justice: Looted Assets, Slave Labor, and the Unfinished Business of World War II”