Year-Long Series Draws to Conclusion

After a school year full of standing-room-only events, the University of Virginia finished its high-impact Excellence Through Diversity Distinguished Learning Series with Michael Sam, former NFL player and LGBTQ activist, on April 12.

The series is organized by the Office of Diversity and Engagement in the UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science with multiple University partners involved.

Speakers in 2017-2018 have included:

  • 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, an activist, scholar, and writer who advocates for the oppressed, appeared on March 27. View the video here.

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.