Anna Deavere Smith
Playwright, actor, and educator Anna Deavere Smith uses her singular brand of theatre to explore issues of community, character, and diversity in America. The MacArthur Foundation honored Smith with the “Genius” Fellowship for creating “a new form of theatre — a blend of theatrical art, social commentary, journalism, and intimate reverie. Her play, Notes from the Field, was the winner of an Obie Award, the 2017 Lortel Award for Outstanding Solo Show, and was named one of the Top 10 Plays of the year by Time magazine. Among Smith’s other awards are the 2012 National Humanities Medal, the 2015 Jefferson Lecturer honor, the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2017 Ridenhour Courage Prize, and the George Polk Career Award for authentic journalism. Smith is the founding director of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue at New York University and a Professor at Tisch School of the Arts. She has been an Artist-in-Residence at MTV Networks, the Ford Foundation, and Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Smith was appointed to Bloomberg Philanthropies’ 2017 U.S. Mayors Challenge Committee, a nationwide competition urging innovative solutions for the toughest issues confronting U.S. cities.
Liberal Education’s Role in Preserving Democracy
An open discussion—moderated by AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella—with speakers Harry J. Elam, President, Occidental College, G. Gabrielle Starr, President, Pomona College and Mike Flores, Chancellor of Alamo Colleges
Lynn Pasquerella has served as President of the American Association of Colleges and Universities since July 2016. A philosopher whose career has combined teaching and scholarship with local and global engagement, she has continuously demonstrated a deep and abiding commitment to ensuring that all students have access to excellence in liberal education, regardless of their socioeconomic background.
Annette Gordon-Reed is a Professor of History in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard Law School, and the award-winning author of six books. Her latest book, On Juneteenth, sets out to capture the integral importance of the holiday to American history. It quickly became a New York Times bestseller, was featured on the magazine’s 100 Notable Books list, and chosen as one of its the top five non-fiction books of the year. When President Joe Biden finally signed into law a bill that established Juneteenth as a federal holiday—the culmination of a decades-long effort—Gordon-Reed was among those invited to witness the historic moment. “I think it will be good for the country to have a day to reflect on slavery and the end of slavery,” Gordon-Reed said.