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Chancellor’s Lecture Series Archives

To view more videos in the Chancellor Lecture Series playlist, click the playlist icon near the upper left of the video. View full recaps and coverage of all CLS events here.

 

2021 Vanderbilt University MLK Commemorative Virtual Event

2021 Vanderbilt University MLK Commemorative Virtual Event
Award-winning author and novelist, Dinaw Mengestu

At Home in the World: Place, Identity and the American Dream

Keynote and moderated Q&A

Monday, Jan.18, 2021

5:15 p.m. central time via zoom webinar

Ethiopian American novelist Dinaw Mengestu, known for his powerful and personal depictions of the immigrant experience and perspectives on the American dream, will be the keynote speaker for Vanderbilt University’s 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative event in partnership with the Chancellor’s Lecture Series.

The virtual event, “At Home in the World: Place, Identity and the American Dream,” will take place from 5:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. CT on Jan. 18 and is open to the Vanderbilt community. The discussion will be moderated by Karla M. McKanders, Clinical Professor of Law, Associate Director, Legal Clinic at Vanderbilt University

Read more here

Visit: www.vanderbilt.edu/mlk

Vanderbilt community members may watch a full video of the event; you must log in using your VUnetID and password. >>

The Vanderbilt Unity Project Virtual Event

The Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy debuts with a conversation series featuring Al Gore, followed by Condoleezza Rice and led by Jon Meacham

Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021

The Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy
Al Gore and Condoleezza Rice

4:30 p.m. central time via zoom webinar

Al Gore, the 45th vice president of the United States, and Vanderbilt’s own Jon Meacham set the tone for Vanderbilt’s new Project on Unity and American Democracy by focusing on the importance of evidence and reason in political discourse, a theme from Gore’s 2007 book The Assault on Reason (2nd edition, 2017). The conversation with former Vice President Gore will provide the framework for the project’s approach to advancing unity through evidence-based analysis and relevant historical studies.

Meacham will then examine the project’s first case study of evidence-based policymaking in conversation with Condoleezza Rice, the 66th Secretary of State. They will discuss her experience marshaling the facts necessary to secure bipartisan support for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which has received more than $85 billion to date in unified U.S. government support, the largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease in history.

Watch the recording and learn more about the event.

Read more about the project

Madeleine K. Albright and General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.)

‘The Next Chapter in U.S. Foreign Policy’
Monday, November 16, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. central time

Via zoom webinar

Moderated conversation with Jon Meacham, Carolyn T. and Robert M. Rogers Chair in American Presidency.

Madeleine K. Albright is a professor, author, diplomat and businesswoman who became the first female U.S. secretary of state in 1997 and thus, at that time, the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government. Albright received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Barack Obama in 2012. She is a professor in the practice of diplomacy at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and a seven-time New York Times bestselling author.

Retired Gen. Colin L. Powell has held senior military and diplomatic positions across four presidential administrations and was appointed the 65th U.S. secretary of state by President George W. Bush. Among the many U.S. military awards and decorations Powell has received are the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Soldier’s Medal, Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart. His civil awards include two Presidential Medals of Freedom, the President’s Citizens Medal, the Congressional Gold Medal and the Secretary of Energy Distinguished Service Medal.

Join Chancellor Daniel Diermeier as he hosts his first Chancellor’s Lecture Series for an evening of candid conversation with Madeleine K. Albright and retired Gen. Colin L. Powell on the future of U.S. foreign policy and diplomacy. Jon Meacham, Carolyn T. and Robert M. Rogers Chair in American Presidency at Vanderbilt University, will moderate the discussion, which will be followed by a Q&A. Attendees can submit questions in advance on the registration page for the webinar.

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Vanderbilt community members may watch a full video of the event; you must log in using your VUnetID and password. >>

 

Rescheduled – Caroline Kennedy

*Thursday, May 7, 11 a.m. (Doors open at 9:30 a.m.)
Memorial Gym

Keynote

Best-selling author, attorney and former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy will receive Vanderbilt University’s prestigious Nichols-Chancellor’s Medal in May 2020, when she speaks to the university’s graduating students and their families. Kennedy’s address in partnership with the Chancellor’s Lecture Series will take place on Graduates Day, which is May 7, at Memorial Gym. The event, previously known as Senior Day, has been renamed Graduates Day to be more inclusive of all Vanderbilt students, including graduate, professional and undergraduate students, who will earn a degree the following day.

Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, has dedicated her life to public and philanthropic service. Kennedy was the first woman to serve as U.S. ambassador to Japan when she was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2013.

For more information on attending the event and other details, please visit the Commencement website.

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Canceled – Anderson Cooper

*Sunday, March 15, 2020

Keynote and Q&A

Cooper is the anchor of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360°, a global newscast that goes beyond the headlines with in-depth reporting and investigations. Cooper also hosts Anderson Cooper Full Circle, a streaming show that airs on CNN’s digital properties each weekday and is also available on demand.

Since the start of his career in 1992, Cooper has worked in more than 40 countries and has covered nearly all major news events around the world, often reporting from the scene. Cooper also has played a pivotal role in CNN’s political and election coverage, anchoring from conventions and moderating several presidential primary debates and town halls.

In addition to his shows on CNN, Cooper is also a regular correspondent for CBS’ 60 Minutes. In 2016, The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love, and Loss—a collection of correspondence between Anderson and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt—debuted at the top of the New York Times Best Seller list and remained on the list for three months. Cooper’s first book, Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of Wars, Disaster, and Survival, was published in 2006 and also topped the New York Times Best Seller list and other bestseller charts. He will talk about breaking stereotypes and rising through challenges during the Chancellor’s Lecture Series on March 29.

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Canceled – Joan Johnson

*Thursday, March 19

Joan Johnson is the director for faculty in the Office of the Provost at Northwestern University. Johnson received her bachelor’s degree from Duke University and her doctorate in history from UCLA. She has written extensively about the history of women and gender, race, social reform, education, and philanthropy, including:  Funding Feminism: Monied Women, Philanthropy, and the Women’s Movement, 1870-1967; Southern Women at the Seven Sister Colleges: Feminist Values and Social Activism, 1875-1915; and Southern Ladies, New Women: Race, Region and Clubwomen in South Carolina, 1890-1930. She is co-editor of the three-volume series, South Carolina Women: Their Lives and Times, and has published on black and white women in journals and anthologies. She taught women’s history at Northeastern Illinois University for 12 years, was the co-founder and co-director of the Newberry Seminar on Women and Gender at the Newberry Library in Chicago.

The March 19 event, presented by the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center, in partnership with the Chancellor’s Lecture Series is titled, “Race, Rights and the Woman Suffrage Movement: The Stories of Alva Vanderbilt Belmont, Irene Moorman and Rose Schneiderman.” It is being sponsored by the Division of Government and Community Relations.

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Canceled – Ezra Klein

*Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Ezra Klein is the editor-at-large and co-founder of Vox, the award-winning explanatory news organization. Launched in 2014, Vox reaches more than 50 million people across its platforms each month. Klein is also the host of “The Ezra Klein Show” podcast, co-host of “The Weeds” podcast and an executive producer on Vox’s Netflix show, “Explained.” Previously, Klein was a columnist and editor at The Washington Post, a policy analyst at MSNBC, and a contributor to Bloomberg.

The Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions (CSDI) will host Ezra Klein on April 15 as he launches his new book, “ Why We’re Polarized,” in partnership with the Chancellor’s Lecture Series.

 

 


America Ferrera*

Monday, February 17, 6:30 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30 p.m.)
Langford Auditorium

*This event was canceled.  Ms. Ferrera had to withdraw from the event due to unforeseen circumstances.


John Bolton and Susan Rice

Wednesday, February 19, 7 p.m. (Doors open at 6 p.m.)
Langford Auditorium

Moderated conversation

One of America’s most prominent policy voices, Bolton is a lawyer and diplomat who has spent his career fighting to protect American national interests. As National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump, Bolton championed a strong and resolute U.S. foreign and defense policy. He is recognized for his powerful national security influence and past administrative experience, having served in the Ronald Reagan administration and under former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. As the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Bolton strongly defended American economic and security interests, as he did throughout his time at the State and Justice Departments. During his tenure, he was a leading voice on the need for the Security Council to take strong and meaningful action against international proliferation and terrorism.

Rice served President Barack Obama as National Security Advisor for four years and was the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations. In her role as National Security Advisor from July 1, 2013, to January 20, 2017, Rice led the National Security Council staff of approximately 400 defense, diplomatic, intelligence and development experts. She is currently a Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow at the School of International Service at American University, and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Recalling pivotal moments from her dynamic career on the front lines of American diplomacy and foreign policy, Rice recently penned the New York Times bestseller Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For.

Read more >>

Video from the lecture coming soon.


Janelle Monáe and Yusef Salaam

Sunday, January 19, 6:30 p.m. (Doors open at 4:30 p.m.; MLK Day vigil begins at 5:30 p.m.)
Langford Auditorium

Panel discussion

Janelle Monáe, a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, performer, producer and actor, and Yusef Salaam, one of the Exonerated Five, formerly known as the Central Park Five, will speak at Vanderbilt University on Jan. 19 as the featured panelists for the 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Series keynote event in partnership with the Chancellor’s Lecture Series.

Monáe and Salaam will sit down for a conversation moderated by Divinity School Dean Emilie M. Townes, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society. The discussion will center on this year’s commemorative series theme, “The Power of Storytelling: Our Stories Connect Us.”

For more information on attending the event and other details, please visit the MLK Commemorative Series website.

Read more >> 

 

 


Amanda Little, Steven Pinker & Carl Zimmer

December 3, 6:30 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30 p.m.)
Langford Auditorium

“2020 and Beyond: Tackling Global Issues in the Decades to Come”

Panel discussion moderated by Jon Meacham, featuring Writer-in-residence Amanda Little

(L-R) Amanda Little, Steven Pinker, Carl Zimmer

Rounding out the fall lineup is a panel discussion on the most pressing global issues in the decades to come.

On Tuesday, Dec. 3, Meacham will moderate a discussion in Langford Auditorium featuring cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, award-winning science journalist and New York Times columnist Carl Zimmer and Vanderbilt Writer-in-Residence Amanda Little, who recently published The Fate of Food: What We’ll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World.

Over the course of the evening, the panelists will consider the cross-cultural international collaborations needed to solve these burgeoning problems.

Read more >>

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Lecture available only to Vanderbilt community members (active VUnetID and password required)


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

November 21, 6:30 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30 p.m.)
Langford Auditorium

Keynote + Q&A

Adichie, who was born in Nigeria and came to study in the U.S. at the age of 19, spurred international attention in 2009 with her TED Talk entitled “The Danger of a Single Story,” which illustrated the harmful effects of failing to acknowledge the full complexity of others in both literature and society. The speech has become one of the most viewed TED Talks of all time with over 19 million views on TED.com alone.

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Al Gore

(Chancellor’s Lecture Series in partnership with Al Gore and The Climate Reality Project)

November 20, 6:00 p.m. (Doors open at 5:00 p.m.)
Langford Auditorium

Keynote + Q&A

Former Vice President Al Gore will return to Vanderbilt University for a global conversation on the climate crisis and its solutions. The presentation—part of a worldwide event called “24 Hours of Reality: Truth in Action,” led by Gore and The Climate Reality Project, which he founded and chairs—will be in partnership with the Vanderbilt Chancellor’s Lecture Series.

Read more >>


Doris Kearns Goodwin


October 31, 2019

“Presidential Leadership Lessons”
Discussion moderated by Jon Meacham, Carolyn T. and Robert M. Rogers Chair in the American Presidency and Distinguished Visiting Professor at Vanderbilt

The two Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historians discussed “Presidential Leadership Lessons” in Ingram Hall at the Blair School of Music on Thursday, Oct. 31. Goodwin, the 2009 Nichols-Chancellor’s Medal recipient and author of presidential biographies on Franklin D. Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln,  engaged in an hour-long conversation with Meacham, author of presidential biographies on Andrew Jackson and George H.W. Bush.

Read more >>


George Takei


October 2, 2019

“Takei’s Take: Reflections on Defying the Status Quo in America”
Keynote + Q&A

Takei, best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the Starship Enterprise in 1960s science fiction classic Star Trek, has become a powerful voice on topics from politics to pop culture. During the lecture, he shared his complex story of American identity that spans from his family’s forced internment as Japanese Americans during World War II to his role in the fight for marriage equality in the United States. His lecture was part of the university’s celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Read more >>

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Terry Crews

© Benjo Arwas Studio – Polaroid, Editorial, Fashion, Celebrity and Advertising

September 9, 2019

“Reframing Masculinity & Gender Equality” Keynote + Q&A moderated by William H. Robinson, interim vice provost of strategic initiatives

Crews, a former professional athlete, consistently uses his influential platform to advance a culture of respect around the issues of sexual assault prevention and toxic masculinity. In 2017, TIME identified Crews as one of the “Silence Breakers” for his willingness to support and lend credence to women’s claims of sexual violence while also speaking out about an experience of harassment he experienced personally.

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View selected clips and article about lecture »


Dr. Mae Jemison & Rush Holt, Ph.D.

April 30, 2019

Two giants in the science world took the stage for the 2018-19 academic year’s final event, passionately advocating for an America that encourages its citizens to abandon simple opinion on big challenges and instead use evidence-based, critical thinking. Read more >>


Stacey Abrams


House Minority Leader, Georgia
2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Georgia
March 19, 2019 | Watch >>


President George W. Bush

43rd President of the United States
(2001-09)
March 11, 2019 | Watch >>


Meghan McCain

Author & Political Analyst
Co-Host, The View
February 19, 2019


Sen. Jeff Flake

U.S. Senator, Arizona
(2013-19)
January 17, 2019 | Watch >>


Temple Grandin, Ph.D.


Professor of Animal Sciences,
Colorado State University
November 29, 2018 | Watch >>


Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee


Associate Professor of Medicine
Columbia University
November 1, 2018 | Watch >>

Would you feel differently about learning your risk for cancer if there were a 5 percent chance of your genetic information being leaked? That was the opening question posed by Dr. Mukherjee, an oncologist and preeminent science communicator, to the large audience attending this event. Read more >>

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Robert M. Gates, Ph.D.


22nd U.S. Secretary of Defense
15th Director of Central Intelligence
April 24, 2018


Vice President Joe Biden


47th Vice President of the United States (2009-2017)
April 10, 2018 | Watch >>


Gen. Michael Hayden

The Assault on Intelligence: Decoding the Status of National Security

September 27, 2018

Former CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden revealed that the international intelligence community is flummoxed by America right now, but individual relationships within that community remain strong. Read more >>

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The Hon. Patrick J. Kennedy



U.S. Congressman (RI-1)
(1995-2011)

A Common Struggle: Making Mental Health Essential Health

March 13, 2018

Silence and denial fuel the nation’s opioid crisis, Kennedy told Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos and an audience at Langford Auditorium March 13. His conversation with Zeppos was by turns funny and painfully candid, with a passionate Kennedy pleading for change. Read More >>

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Carly Fiorina


Former CEO, Hewlett-Packard
2016 GOP Presidential Nominee
February 20, 2018 | Watch >>


Jelani Cobb, Ph.D.


Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism,
Columbia University
January 17, 2018 | Watch >>


Adm. Jim Stavridis

Beyond the Horizon: 21st-Century Global Security and Risk

October 3, 2017

The United States of 100 years ago is a good era to review as America sorts out how to proceed in today’s perilous times, the former admiral said during a frank discussion of world politics with Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos and Vanderbilt Distinguished Visiting Professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham. Read More >>

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Sally Yates

The Presidency and the Rule of Law: A Conversation about Justice Past and Present

September 26, 2017

Former United States Acting Attorney General Sally Yates joined Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos and Vanderbilt Distinguished Visiting Professor Jon Meacham for a timely and enlightening discussion on the evolving view of justice.
Read more >>

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Alberto Gonzales & Nina Totenberg

Battle Supreme: Round II – The Future of the Nation’s Highest Court

March 30, 2017

Chancellor Zeppos and Jon Meacham joined former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg for an in-depth look at the implications that come with appointing the ninth justice to the nations highest court. Read more >>

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Michael Sam


February 16, 2017

Michael Sam is an American football defensive end who made history when he came out as gay ahead of the NFL draft, making him the first openly-LGBT player to be drafted in any major American sport. Since his announcement, through scrutiny, criticism and unreserved admiration, he has become an icon and pioneer for the LGBT community. Read more >>

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Joshua DuBois, Ana Navarro & Michael Steele

Beyond Obama – Race, Politics and America’s Future

January 17, 2017

Eight years after Barack Obama’s historic election as the nation’s first African American president, are race relations better or worse in the United States? Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos convened a panel of political experts Tuesday evening to discuss that question, as well as President-elect Donald Trump’s extraordinary ascent to the presidency. Read more >>

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Nia Malika Henderson & Charles Krauthammer

Charles KrauthammerNia Malika Henderson
November 15, 2016

CNN’s Nia Malika Henderson and Pulitzer-Prize winners Charles Krauthammer and Jon Meacham joined Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos for a reflection on the Presidential election and a forward look at what’s next for our country. Read more >>

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Peggy Noonan & Eugene Robinson

Robinson_EugenePeggy-Noonan_200
September 14, 2016

Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos joins The Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Eugene Robinson, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham for a discussion on the upcoming presidential election and the future of our country. Read more >>

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The Hon. Eric H. Holder, Jr.

Eric Holder, Jr.

Principled Leadership: The Courage to Face Challenge

November 9, 2015

Chancellor Zeppos welcomed the Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr., 82nd Attorney General of the United States as he candidly shared anecdotes from his personal life and time in the Justice Department. Read more >>

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Sen. Lamar Alexander


U.S. Senator, Tennessee
(2003-Present)
February 15, 2016 | Watch >>


Harry Belafonte, Michael Beschloss & Annette Gordon-Reed

Harry Belafonte Michael Beschloss Annette Gordon-Reed
January 13, 2015
Civil and human rights activist Harry Belafonte, award-winning historian Michael Beschloss, and Pulitzer Prize-winning legal scholar and historian Annette Gordon-Reed joined Jon Meacham and Chancellor Zeppos to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act. This important conversation traced America’s journey from 1965-2015 and thoughtfully contemplated our country’s path forward. Read more >>

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Governor Jeb Bush

October 28, 2014

During this talk, Bush discussed his stances on immigration and education policy and said he has set a deadline for the end of the year to decide whether he will seek the U.S. presidency in 2016. Read more >>

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Watch a clip of the Nov. 5 talk from “Morning Joe”. (skip to 1:59 mark)


Tom Brokaw


November 5, 2013

Brokaw, Jon Meacham and Arthur Schlesinger’s sons Stephen and Andrew on the Letters of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

Watch on C-SPAN >>


Nicholas Kristof

January 31, 2013

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Lecture available only to Vanderbilt community members (active VUnetID and password required)