President's Lecture Series

The President's Lecture Series serves as a marketplace for ideas, featuring renowned speakers who share their knowledge, experience, opinions and accomplishments. Discussing timely topics, the series puts diversity first, offering an international lineup of authors and educators, business innovators and political figures.

The Series presents to the region a platform for equal exchange of dialogue and ideas. It began in 1991 with its first lecturer, James J. Kilpatrick, a controversial journalist in the 1950s against desegregation in Virginia's public schools. Kilpatrick spoke on campus in a traditional lecture format, including a question and answer session, which allowed for a source of lively dialogue and free speech, trademarks of the series. Today, the President's Lecture Series maintains this format and is free and open to the public.


This collection contains information about all of the lectures in the series. Some actual video of the PLS speakers who were taped with a digital video camera (2016-present) and those whose presentations were converted from raw video tape is available, and indicated with a "play" icon. The majority of pre-2016 PLS videos are available on DVD or VHS in the Special Collections & University Archives Department in Perry Library and will be digitally available in the future. Other lectures were not recorded.

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Lectures from 2019

Travis Mills: Retired U.S. Army Staff Sergeant and Recalibrated Warrior, Travis Mills

Tayari Jones: New York Times Best-selling Author and Novelist Streaming media available, Tayari Jones

Bryan Stevenson: Lawyer, Social Justice Activist, Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, Bryan Stevenson

Claudia Rankine: "An Evening with Claudia Rankine" Streaming media available, Claudia Rankine

Lectures from 2018

Imbolo Mbue: New York Times Bestselling Author and PEN/Faulkner Award Winner Streaming media available, Imbolo Mbue

Michael Lewis: Journalist and Bestselling Author, Michael Lewis

Tamron Hall: Award-Winning Journalist and Host of Deadline Crime Streaming media available, Tamron Hall

Charles Best: DonorsChoose.org. Streaming media available, Charles Best

Michelle Alexander: "US Criminal Justice and Racial Inequity", Michelle Alexander

Lectures from 2017

Roz Chast: New Yorker Cartoonist and Best-Selling Author Streaming media available, Roz Chast

Adam Braun: Entrepreneur, Author and Philanthropist, Founder & CEO of Pencils of Promise Streaming media available, Adam Braun

Michele Norris: NPR Host and Special Correspondent, Michele Norris

Lectures from 2016

Walter V. Robinson: Pulitzer Prize Recipient Portrayed in the Oscar-winning Film "Spotlight" and Editor at Large at the Boston Globe, Walter V. Robinson

Douglas Brinkley Streaming media available, Douglas Brinkley

Ai-jen Poo: "Who Cares? Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America", Ai-jen Poo

Alan Gross: Sentenced to Five Years in Cuban Prison, Alan Gross

Alicia Garza: Social Activist & Co-Creator #BlackLivesMatter Streaming media available, Alicia Garza

Lectures from 2015

Edwidge Danticat: MacArthur Fellow and Acclaimed Haitian-American Writer, Edwidge Danticat

Birth of an Answer (BOAA): Celebrating 100 Years of African American Creative Responses to Birth of a Nation, Birth of an Answer

Guy Kawasaki: "The Art of Enchantment", Guy Kawasaki

Lectures from 2014

Wes Moore: "The Thin Line Between Happiness and Tragedy", Wes Moore

Chef Jeff Henderson: "If You Can See It, You Can Be It", Jeff Henderson

Amy Cosper: "It's All About What You Do With What You've Got", Amy Cosper

Jose Vargas: "Define American", Jose Vargas

Christine Brennan: "Sports as a Mirror of Our 21st Century Society: Big Money, Big Personalities, Big Stories", Christine Brennan

Mark Moffett: "Adventures Among Ants", Mark Moffett

Robert Edsel: "Monuments Men for the Preservation of Art", Robert Edsel

Lectures from 2013

Sal A. Giunta: Medal of Honor Recipient and Author, "Living with Honor" Streaming media available, Sal Giunta

David W. Titley: "The Evolving Understanding of Climate Risk: The Challenge that Won't Go Away", David W. Titley

Charles Mann: "1493 -- Uncovering the New World Columbus Created", Charles Mann

Greg Gumbel: Emmy Award-Winning Sportscaster, CBS Sports, Greg Gumble

Joseph Nye, Jr.: Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor Streaming media available, Joseph Nye Jr.

Mark Plotkin: Ethnobotonist and Social Entrepreneur, Mark Plotkin

Lectures from 2012

Mark Emmert: "Are College Sports Broken?", Mark Emmert

Rebecca Costa: Sociobiologist, Biologist, Historian and Author of The Watchman's Rattle, Rebecca Costa

Dustin Lance Black: Academy-Award Winning Screenwriter, Director, Film and Television Producer, Dustin Lance Black

Jean-Michel Cousteau: Marine Explorer, Environmental Activist, Educator and Filmmaker, Jean-Michel Cousteau

Immaculee Ilibagiza: "Left to Tell: A Story of Peace, Hope and Forgiveness", Immaculee Ilibagiza

Lectures from 2011

Greg Mortensen: Humanitarian and Best-Selling Author of Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortensen

Lectures from 2009

Mark Bowden: Correspondent, Journalist, Screenwriter, Teacher and Author of Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, Mark Bowden

Jonathan Kozol: "In Praise of a Beautiful Profession: Educators Working in the Front Lines of the Public Schools", Jonathan Kozol

Richard Dreyfuss: A Conversation with Richard Dreyfuss, Richard Dreyfuss

Lectures from 2008

Frank DeFord: "Sports: The Hype and the Hoopla" Streaming media available, Frank DeFord

Kim Phuc: Icon of the Vietnam War, Kim Phuc

Betty Williams: "Creating Safe Havens for the World's Children", Betty Williams

Mia Farrow: "With Knowledge Comes Responsibility: The Darfur Crisis" Streaming media available, Mia Farrow

Lectures from 2007

Tim Flannery: "The Weather Makers: How Man is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth", Tim Flannery

Reza Aslan: Iranian-American Writer, Professor of Creative Writing, Reza Aslan

Jaap Doek: "Reducing Global Violence: The Role of Protecting Children", Jaap Doek

Lectures from 2006

Elie Wiesel: "An Afternoon with Elie Wiesel", Elie Wiesel

Terry Waite: "Iraq, Guantanamo and Human Rights" Streaming media available, Terry Waite

Jon Meacham: "Franklin and Winston: Leadership Lessons for Today", Jon Meacham

Lectures from 2005

Louise Leakey: "Origins and Evolution: In Search of How We Became Human", Louise Leakey

Susan Landry: "Creating Family and School Environments that Support Cognitive Development of Young Children", Susan Landry

Garrison Keillor: "An Evening with Garrison Keillor", Garrison Keillor

Lectures from 2004

Shashi Tharoor: "From Midnight to Millennium: Democracy and Identity in Today's India", Shashi Tharoor

Richard Rodriguez: "Brown: The Last Discovery of America", Richard Rodriguez

Robert Evans: "Family Matters: How Schools Can Cope with The Crisis in Childrearing", Robert Evans

Harry Greene: "Darwin, Kant and Biodiversity" Streaming media available, Harry Greene

Rory Kennedy: "The Camera Doesn't Lie: Social Change Through Documentary Film Making", Rory Kennedy

Gail Buckley: "Black America at War: From George Washington to George Bush" Streaming media available, Gail Buckley

David Pearson: "The Politics of Reading Pedagogy: The Role of Research in Shaping National, State and Local Reading Policy and Practices", David Pearson

Coleman Barks and Jonathan Kramer: "Rumi's Work with Community", Coleman Barks and Jonathan Kramer

Lectures from 2003

Norma Field: "Japanese Women's Pursuit of Global Justice", Norma Field

Sarah Vowell: "A Partly Cloudy Patriot: An Evening with Sarah Vowell", Sarah Vowell

Jill Conway: "When Memory Speaks" Streaming media available, Jill Conway

Kerry Kennedy: "Speak Truth to Power", Kerry Kennedy

Randall L. Kennedy: "Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word", Randall L. Kennedy

Lectures from 2002

Carol Etherington: "Childhood Interrupted by War and Disaster", Carol Etherington

Susan Sontag: "The World as India", Susan Sontag

Gordon Shaw: "The Music-Math Causal Connection", Gordon Shaw

Natalie Zemon Davis: "Braided Histories: Jews, Africans and Philosophies in 18th-Century Suriname" Streaming media available, Natalie Zemon Davis

Richard C. Holbrooke: "AIDS: The Humanitarian Crisis", Richard C. Holbrooke

Janet Reno: "The Legal Profession as Problem Solvers and Peacemakers", Janet Reno

Mae Jemison: "An Evening with Mae Jemison", Mae Jemison

Gregory Pence and Nigel M. Cameron: "Cloning Debate", Gregory Pence and Nigel M. Cameron

Lectures from 2001

Capital Steps: "The Lighter Side of Politics", Capital Steps

Edward Albee: "The Playwright vs. The Theater", Edward Albee

Gen. Wesley Clark: "Waging Modern War", Wesley K. Clark

Sarah Weddington: "Some Leaders are Born Women", Sarah Weddington

Jon Entine and Kenneth Shropshire: "Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We're Afraid to Talk About It", Jon Entine and Kenneth L. Shropshire

Stephanie Gutmann: "The Kinder, Gentler Military: Can It Fight?", Stephanie Gutmann

Michael Bérubé: "Disability and Democracy", Michael Bérubé

Lectures from 2000

Dwight Duncan and Richard Mohr: "Who Should be Allowed to Marry: The Same Sex Debate", Dwight G. Duncan and Richard D. Mohr

Ernest Gaines: "Gaines on Gaines", Ernest J. Gaines

Óscar Arias Sánchez: Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Former President of Costa Rica: "The Struggle for Peace in the New Millennium", Óscar Arias Sánchez

David Horowitz: "The Art of Political War", David Horowitz

Naomi Wolf: "Ethical Leadership for the 21st Century", Naomi Wolf

Shay Banks-Young and Julia Jefferson Westerinen: "The Affairs of Race in America: A Conversation in Black & White", Shay Banks-Young and Julia Jefferson-Westerinen

Robert Zubrin: "The Case for Mars", Robert Zubrin

Lectures from 1999

Greta van Susteren: "Looking At the News Through the Eyes of the Law", Greta van Susteren

Dr. Patch Adams: "Passion and Persistence: Following Your Dream", Patch Adams

John Lewis Gaddis: "The Post-Cold War World", John Lewis Gaddis

Barbara Ehrenreich: "Blood rites: A New Evolutionary Perspective on Violence", Barbara Ehrenreich

Dr. M. Joycelyn Elders: "Healthcare in the 21st Century", M. Joycelyn Elders

Nat Hentoff: "Are There Any Limits to Free Speech?", Nat Hentoff

Kati Marton: "Wallenberg: Missing Hero", Kati Marton

Lectures from 1998

Sir Ghillean Prance Streaming media available, Ghillean Prance

Lynne V. Cheney: "Saving Our Schools" Streaming media available, Lynne V. Cheney

Bettina Gregory: "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Network News" Streaming media available, Bettina Gregory