Plenary Sessions

Opening Night Forum

Wednesday, January 18, 2023 /

Snapshots: Portraits of a World in Transition

Ms. Smith, who is said to have created a new form of theater, has been listening to people across the country from all walks of life for decades, using Walt Whitman’s idea “to absorb America” as an inspiration. To illustrate her goal of bringing “people across the chasms” of what she calls the “complex identities of America,” Ms. Smith performs portrayals of people she has interviewed during the course of her presentation, recreating a diversity of emotions and points of view on controversial issues.

  • Anna Deavere Smith

    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.

Opening Plenary

Thursday, January 19, 2023 /

Liberal Education’s Role in Preserving Democracy

An open discussion—moderated by AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella—with speakers Andrew Delbanco, president of the Teagle Foundation; Mike Flores, Chancellor of Alamo Colleges; and G. Gabrielle Starr, president of Pomona College.

  • Lynn Pasquerella

    Moderator: Lynn Pasquerella

    President, AAC&U

    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.

  • Andrew Delbanco

    Andrew Delbanco

    President, Teagle Foundation; Alexander Hamilton Professor of American Studies, Columbia University

  • Mike Flores

    Mike Flores

    Chancellor of Alamo Colleges

  • G. Gabrielle Starr

    G. Gabrielle Starr

    President, Pomona College

Closing Plenary

Friday, January 20, 2023 /

  • Annette Gordon-Reed

    Annette Gordon-Reed

    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.