President's Speaker Series

This series brings thought leaders to campus to discuss current issues facing the university and greater society.

Launched in October 2011 with a visit from ambassador, activist and public servant Andrew Young, the President’s Distinguished Speakers Series at Roger Williams University invites thought leaders from a wide range of disciplines to share perspectives, inspire conversations and enrich the intellectual lives of students, faculty and staff at Roger Williams as well as members of the local community.

As part of the series, each guest is invited to devote much of the daylong visit to direct engagement with students in classroom sessions, offering RWU students unique opportunities for one-on-one interactions with some of the world’s leading authors, scholars, artists and public servants.

Past Events

Majora Carter

Urban revitalization and environmental equality strategist will talk about the importance of a clean economy.

February 13, 2019

Majora Carter

Ibram Kendi & Robin DiAngelo

Renowned historical scholar and acclaimed instructor on issues of race and talking about race

April 4, 2018

Ibram Kendi and Robin DiAngelo

Tina Tchen & Adrienne Lawrence

Renowned attorneys and legal analysts will share their experiences on being women of color in the workplace

March 28, 2018

Tina Tchen & Adrienne Lawrence

Tarana Burke

Founder of the "Me Too" movement to empower survivors of sexual assault and longtime social justice activist

February 13, 2018

Tarana Burke

Richard Thompson Ford 

Renowned attorney, scholar and author with expertise in government, constitutional, race relations and anti-discrimination law

February 5, 2018

Richard Ford

Beverly Daniel Tatum 

Author of landmark book, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?

November 8, 2017

Beverly Daniel Tatum

Tod Williams and Billie Tsien 

Internationally award-winning architect team and designers of the Obama Presidential Center 

October 25, 2017

Architects inside their studio.

Micheline Sheehy Skeffington 

Irish feminist and activist retraces journey of suffragette grandmother 

October 11, 2017

Micheline Skeffington

Nicholas Kristof

New York Times columnist presents “Moral Obligations and National Interest: Refugees in the 21st Century.”

April 20, 2017

Christopher Achen

Renowned political scientist presents "Why Do Elections Produce Unresponsive Government?"

October 26, 2016

Art Spiegelman

Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novelist presents "What the %@&*!
Happened to Comics?"

September 7, 2016

Lemon Andersen

Tony Award-winning spoken word poet and playwright presents "Breaking in the Door to Have Your Voice Heard"

March 22, 2016

Naomi Oreskes

Science Historian discusses "Why We Should Trust Science (Most of the Time)"

April 13, 2016


Isabel Wilkerson

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

December 3, 2015


Jane Elliott

Esteemed teacher, presenter and diversity trainer who devised the controversial "Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes" exercise

March 30, 2015


Panel Discussion Featuring Leonard Pitts Jr.

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer leads a panel discussion on "The Modern Legacy of the 13th Amendment and Race Relations in the U.S."

March 23, 2015


Lawrence Lessig

Preeminent scholar, attorney and activist with expertise in intellectual property and Internet policy, and a watchdog on government corruption

February 23, 2015


David Wilson

Acclaimed filmmaker and journalist whose documentary film, Meeting David Wilson (2008), ignited a national conversation on race relations in America

February 17, 2015

Richard Blanco

Cuban-American who was the first Latino and openly gay poet to serve as inaugural poet at a President's inauguration, and author of One Today (2013) and Boston Strong (2013)

April 15, 2014


David Wilson

Renowned journalist and filmmaker of groundbreaking documentary film Meeting David Wilson (2008)

April 1, 2014


Cokie Roberts

Acclaimed broadcast journalist and New York Times bestselling author of Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies (2014)

March 24, 2014


Joseph Cirincione

Global security expert and president of Ploughshares Fund

November 5, 2013


Sylvia Earle

Renowned marine biologist and Time magazine's first Hero for the Planet

September 25, 2013


Julian Bonder

Architect, educator and co-designer of the award-winning Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery in Nantes, France

April 11, 2013


Leonard Pitts Jr.

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and bestselling author of Before I Forget (2009) and Freeman (2012)

November 28, 2012


Dava Sobel

Science writer, storyteller and author of the acclaimed bestsellers Longitude (1995), Galileo’s Daughter (1999) and A More Perfect Heaven (2011)

March 27, 2012


Andrew Young

Accomplished public servant, civil rights activist and ordained minister who served as U.S. Congressman, Mayor of Atlanta and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

October 12, 2011