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President’s Distinguished Speakers Series

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

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