An Athenaeum Amuse-Bouche

It's July, and you're itching to get back to campus. Reunion festivities and move-in drama aside, we know what you're really craving: that Athenaeum speaker list. As always, the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum will offer a host of excellent lectures this year from experts at the top of their game. I know how patiently you've been waiting, and to reward you, I've prepared a small taste of what's to come: Condoleezza Rice

A woman who needs no introduction, though I’m going to give her one anyway, Condoleezza Rice will be speaking at the Athenaeum on November 30. Ms. Rice, the 66th United States Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, currently works as a professor at Stanford University and as the director of Stanford’s Global Center for Business and the economy. Her work in government is well known, but here are a few things you may not know about her: she has guest starred on an episode of 30 Rock, she is an accomplished concert pianist who has played alongside famous individuals like Yo-Yo Ma, and recently broke an 86 year losing-streak after winning the World Series in 2004 (Note: One of these facts may actually apply to the Boston Red Sox).

Fran Lebowitz

Renowned author, humorist, and smoking advocate Fran Lebowitz will be speaking at Claremont McKenna College this spring. She’s made appearances on Law & Order, twice on The Late Show with David Letterman, and in an HBO documentary, directed by Martin Scorsese, entitled Public Speaking, which chronicles her famous talent for snappy repartee and humorous world-view. Lebowitz will also be speaking as a part of the speaker series "The New Normal: Abandoning Narrow Definitions," a project conceived by the 2011-12 Resident Assistants with the co-sponsorship of ASCMC and the support of several key faculty and staff. The series aims to create a more inclusive definition of leadership on campus and celebrate those that have successfully challenged a hyper-masculine cultural norm.


Dan Savage

The speaker list just keeps getting better! At least that’s what Dan Savage, founder of the “It Gets Better Project” told me. Savage will also be speaking this upcoming spring about his efforts to fight depression and suicide among LGBT youth in America. Savage initiated his project, which encourages well-known celebrities and organizations to post videos affirming that life does get better, in September of 2010. Since then, thousands have posted videos on his website in support of Savage’s message, including Stephen Colbert, Lady Gaga, Hillary Clinton, Woody, and the San Francisco Giants. Savage is currently the editorial director  of the Stranger, a weekly newspaper in Seattle. Savage will also be speaking as a part of the "New Normal" speaker series. He will speak on February 29.

Rick Welts

Welts currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Phoenix Suns basketball team (Not to be confused with Charlie Sheen’s upcoming Norwegian black metal album “Phoenix Sons”), and formerly served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of the National Basketball Association, after rising from the position of ball boy. Just a few months ago, he came out and became the first openly gay American sports executive. Welts has explained that he wants to inspire more open dialogue about homosexuality in professional sports. He will be speaking this fall, on October 14th, about his experiences in the NBA, and the challenges he faced as a gay man in the NBA. Welts, along with Dan Savage and Fran Lebowitz, will speak as a part of the "New Normal" speaker series with additional support from the CMS Athletic Department.


Melissa Harris-Perry

A critically acclaimed author and Professor at Tulane University, Melissa Harris-Perry will also be speaking at the Athenaeum on October 5. Perry authored the comprehensive examination of the development of black political perspectives Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought, a winner of the W.E.B DuBois Best Book Award in the Race and Ethnic Politics category, and the upcoming Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America. Harris-Perry is part of a speaker series put together by Professor and Faculty Director of the Center for Writing and Public Discourse Audrey Bilger.  The speaker series is called Writing and Public Discourse.

For more updates from the Athenaeum and information about signing up for these talks, check out their website here. Also,  the Forum will release the full speaker list in mid August so be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and be among the first to know.

*Note: An older version of this article was published on Monday, July 25 and misnamed an Athenaeum speaker series. The series is entitled "The New Normal: Abandoning Narrow Definitions," not the "Social Inclusion Series." The article also referred imprecisely to those involved in creating the series. The series was created not only with RA Greg Zahner ('12) but also with the support of the 2011-2012 Residential Assistants and additional faculty and staff.