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. 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

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

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

An Evening with Claudia Rankine, Claudia Rankine

Lectures from 2018

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

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

Charles Best, Charles Best

Michelle Alexander: "US criminal justice and racial inequity", Michelle Alexander

Lectures from 2017

Roz Chast, Roz Chast

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

Michele Norris: NPR host and special correspondent, Michele Norris

Lectures from 2016

Walter V. Robinson: Boston Globe Editor, Walter V. Robinson

Douglas Brinkley, 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, Alicia Garza

Lectures from 2015

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

Lectures from 2014

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: "Best Seat in the House", 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", Sal Giunta

Charles Mann: 1493 -- uncovering the new world Columbus created, Charles Mann

Joseph Nye, Jr.: Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor, Joseph Nye Jr.

Lectures from 2012

Dustin Lance Black, Dustin Lance Black

Lectures from 2008

Frank DeFord: "Sports: The Hype and the Hoopla", Frank DeFord

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

Lectures from 2007

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

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

Tim Flannery: "The Weather Makers: How Man is Changing the Climate", Tim Flannery

Lectures from 2006

Terry Waite: Iraq, Guantanamo and Human Rights, Terry Waite

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

An Afternoon with Elie Wiesel, Elie Wiesel

Lectures from 2005

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

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

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

Lectures from 2004

Harry Greene: "Darwin, Kant and Biodiversity", Harry Greene

Gail Buckley: "Black America at War: From George Washington ... Bush", Gail Buckley

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

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

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

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

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

Lectures from 2003

Jill Conway: "When Memory Speaks", Jill Conway

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

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

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

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

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", Natalie Zemon Davis

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

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

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

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

Lectures from 2001

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

Michael Bérubé: "Disability and Democracy", Michael Bérubé

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kati Marton: The Raoul Wallenburg Humanitarian Lecture, Kati Marton

Lectures from 1998

Sir Ghillean Prance, Ghillean Prance

Lynne V. Cheney, Lynne V. Cheney

Bettina Gregory, Bettina Gregory

LouAnne Johnson: "The Secret Life, Sex Education, and Hand-to-Hand Combat", LouAnne Johnson

Rev. Al Sharpton: "Social Justice for the 21st Century", Al Sharpton

Nadine Strossen: "Current Challenges to Civil Liberties", Nadine Strossen

Ralph Wiley: "The Creative Process", Ralph Wiley

Lectures from 1997

Arianna Huffington, Arianna Huffington

William F. Buckley, William F. Buckley

Cathy Rigby, Cathy Rigby

Julian Bond: "A Collision Course in a Divided Society", Julian Bond

Morris Dees: "Teaching Tolerance", Morris Dees

Phyllis Schlafly: "The Feminists Just Don't Get It", Phyllis Schlafly

Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Jr., Elmo Zumwalt

Lectures from 1996

Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer: "Serving in Silence", Margarethe Cammermeyer

Molly Ivins: "Insights from Molly", Molly Ivins

Benjamin Karim: "Remembering Malcolm", Benjamin Karim

Ralph Reed, Jr.: Remarks by Ralph Reed, Jr., Ralph Reed Jr.

Lectures from 1995

Lillian Vernon: "The Entrepreneur and the Professional Manager: Getting the Best of Both Worlds", Lillian Vernon