Saul Williams Headlines First Event of 2018 at Charlottesville's Paramount Theater

The University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science is affirming its core value of excellence through diversity with its second-annual speaker series that began Sept. 8. All events are free and open to the public.

To watch live streams of the events, click here.

To see presentations from the previous speakers, click here.

UVA Engineering’s Excellence Through Diversity Distinguished Learning Series features:

  • Cornel West, professor of the practice of public philosophy at Harvard University and professor emeritus at Princeton University. West has written 20 books, including Race Matters and Democracy Matters. He spoke on Sept. 8. The video is available here.
  • Ronald Sullivan, social justice attorney. Sullivan's appearance was on Sept. 27. The video is available here.
  • Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Collins spoke on Oct. 10. The video is available here.
  • Shankar Vedantam, host of NPR's "The Hidden Brain." Vedantam appeared on Oct. 26.
  • Ana Navarro, political strategist, national Hispanic campaign manager for multiple Republican presidential campaigns and CNN commentator, spoke Nov. 30. Click here to read a Q&A with Navarro.
  • Saul Williams, poet, performer and international recording artist who has performed in more than 30 countries and read in more than 300 universities, appeared Jan. 22. The video is available here.
  • Michelle Alexander, civil rights lawyer, advocate, legal scholar and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Alexander spoke on Feb. 27, 2018, with an appearance from Virginia Lieutenant Gov. Justin Fairfax. The video is available here.
  • Angela Davis, activist, scholar and writer who advocates for the oppressed. She will speak at 6 p.m. on March 27, 2018. 
  • Michael Sam, former NFL player and LGBTQ activist. Sam is scheduled to appear on April 12, 2018, at 6 p.m. in McLeod Hall.

The Excellence Through Diversity Distinguished Learning Series is an initiative of UVA Engineering’s Office of Diversity and Engagement, led by Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion John Fitzgerald Gates. Gates is working with faculty, staff and students to redefine diversity as excellence expressing itself through the intersection of all people’s perspectives and lived experiences, rather than traditional definitions. This definition supports UVA Engineering’s mission to leverage the talents and best efforts of all in order to create and disseminate knowledge, prepare future engineering leaders, solve global challenges and make the world a better place.

“We will harness the strategic value of diversity and inclusion in UVA Engineering’s research and education programs,” Gates said, “and we will cultivate an environment in which everyone is optimally valued and supported.”

This year’s Excellence Through Diversity Distinguished Learning Series is UVA Engineering’s second. Last year, the series welcomed Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space; Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, a sociology professor at Duke University and expert on racism and human rights in America; Thomas Page McBee, a well-known transgender author; Joy DeGruy, an internationally recognized researcher, educator, author and presenter who provides insight into various cultural and ethnic groups that form the basis of contemporary American society; Daniel Beaty, an award-winning performer from New York whose works highlight people’s ability to understand each other and their possibilities; and Claude Steele, author of Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do. Videos of last year's presentations can be viewed here.

For this year’s series, other events will be added throughout the year. Event details, including dates, times and registration information, will be available at and on UVA Engineering’s Facebook page,