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Lectures and Symposia

A wide range of programs at Dickinson presents many occasions for the celebration of intellect and talent in all disciplines. These lectures, performances, films, exhibits, and symposia demonstrate the value of the liberal arts while furthering educational experience. Students are actively involved in planning and presenting a variety of these events.

Common Hours

On Tuesday and Thursday at noon no classes are scheduled so that members of the Dickinson community can gather to discuss topics of interest and enjoy programs that enrich our intellectual and cultural lives. Each week, a varied schedule of events is available such as student presentation of research, concerts, discussion of topics of immediate importance locally and internationally. These programs also provide opportunity for informal conversation among students, faculty, and administrators.

The Poitras Gleim Lecture

The annual Poitras-Gleim Lecture, which was endowed by a gift from Ted and Kay Gleim Poitras ’53, provides a forum to explore and promote cross-disciplinary thought and communication. The Student Senate Academics Committee organizes and oversees the Poitras-Gleim Lecture and is tasked with fostering vibrant campus discussions about academic and political issues through seminars, lectures and debates. Previous Poitras-Gleim lecturers have included astronaut, engineer and physician Mae Jemison; American writer Piper Kerman; Edward Ricourt '95, screenwriter; and Dr. Ruth Westheimer, therapist, radio and TV personality, and documentary film maker.

Special Lectures and Scholars in Residence

Each year distinguished public figures and outstanding scholars from American and foreign universities present lectures on campus. Some of these international visitors come as scholars-in-residence for week-long, semester-long, or year-long periods of time. All these people enrich the intellectual offerings of the college and allow students and faculty to encounter new ideas and different opinions. Academic departments and student groups frequently sponsor lectures and small-group discussions which encourage the exploration of issues beyond the classroom. Special lecture topics range from discussion of current political, social, and economic issues to consideration of new scholarly developments within academic disciplines.

The Morgan Lectureship Endowed by the board of trustees in 1929, in grateful appreciation for the distinguished service of James Henry Morgan of the Class of 1878, professor of Greek, dean, and president of the college, the Morgan Lectureship is used by the president of the college “for the procurement of one or more special lectures annually upon such subject or subjects as he may deem wise....” The lectureship brings to campus a scholar in residence for three to five days to meet informally with individuals and class groups, and to deliver the Morgan lectures on topics in the social sciences and humanities. Recent scholars have been Jorge Luis Borges, Francis Fukuyama, Michael Ignatieff, Samantha Power, Art Spiegelman, Sandra Steingraber, Kay Redfield Jamison, Patricia Hill Collins, Winona LaDuke, Lila Abu-Lughod and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.   The 2019 lecturer was Kwame Anthony Appiah, philosopher, novelist and columnist for The New York Times Magazine "The Ethicist."  His lecture was "Identity at Home and in the Wider World."

The Pflaum Lectures in History are supported by income from a fund contributed by students and friends of the late Professor John C. Pflaum in appreciation of his effective teaching. The lectures bring to campus scholars who, like Professor Pflaum, are particularly successful in oral presentation of historical topics.  Prof. John Bodnar, Indiana University, delivered the 2018 Pflaum Lecture entitled “Patriotic Optics and America's War on Terror.”  Other recent lecturers have been Thomas Hull, Daniel Walker Howe, Zachary Lockman, Michael Katz, Michael Adas, Peter Gatrell, Jeffrey Pilcher and Jacqueline Jones.

The Glover Memorial Lectures are usually presented in alternate years. This lectureship in science was established in 1958 in memory of John Glover of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, the inventor of the Glover Tower, and in memory of his son and grandson, Henry and Lester Glover, by the late Dr. John D. Yeagley and Mrs. Yeagley of York, Pennsylvania. Recent Glover Lectures include David Lee’s lecture on “Superconductivity and Superfluidity: A Century of Discovery,” Rush Holt's lecture on "Advancing Science," and Gabriela González's lecture on "Einstein, Black Holes and Gravitational Waves."

The Rabinowitz Program was created by Wilbur M. Rabinowitz, Class of 1940 and a trustee of the college, to enable students and faculty to benefit from encounters with articulate and knowledgeable spokespersons whose careers are or have been in business or government. Individuals who have distinguished themselves in the corporate world or government are invited to visit the Dickinson campus as participants in one of the two components of the program: the Benjamin Rush Award Ceremony or the Executive-in-Residence Program.

The Benjamin Rush Award Ceremony recognizes outstanding achievement by a member of the business or government community. The individual accepting the award presents a public lecture addressing the relationship of a liberal arts education to the business or government world. Opportunities for members of the college community to converse and discuss issues with the award recipient occur while the recipient is on the campus.

The recipient of the award is presented with an honorarium and with a bronze medal which bears the likeness of Benjamin Rush, the prominent colonial Philadelphia physician who was a key founder of the college and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The first Benjamin Rush Award was presented in 1985 to the board chairman and chief executive officer of CBS. Recipients since then have included the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations; the Chairman of the Board of Mutual Life Insurance of America; a former Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission; a former chairman of Honeywell International, Inc. and chairman and CEO of Allied Signal; co-founder and former chairman of AES Corp; Editor-in-Chief, Business Week Magazine;  CEO of the Hamner Institute for Health Sciences; and the chairman of The Graham Group. The 2011-12 recipient was Charles Cole, former President and CEO, First Maryland Bankcorp and The National Bank of Maryland, who gave a presentation, “Light at the End of the Tunnel?”

The Executive-in-Residence Program brings to campus, for residencies of three to five days, individuals who have been identified as strong contributors to current developments in the business world. These executives participate in classes and less formal gatherings which permit them to engage in discussions of significant issues facing business leaders. The first Executive-in-Residence was J. Bruce McKinney, Class of 1959, trustee of the college, and chairman and chief executive officer of the Hershey Entertainment and Resort Company.

The Donald W. Flaherty Lecture in Asian Studies is supported by a fund established by students, colleagues, and friends of Professor Flaherty, a pioneer in the development of Asian studies at Dickinson. The lectureship brings to campus scholars and speakers who reflect Professor Flaherty’s lifelong interest in all aspects of Asian history, culture, and politics. Since the inaugural lecture in 1987-88, prominent Asianists have spoken on topics ranging from "Cultures of War”  to “Cold War Clint: Asia in the World of an American Icon." The lecture in the 2017-18 academic year was "Madness Restrained and Unrestricted: Police, Families and the Beijing Municipal Asylum" by Emily Baum, assistant professor of modern Chinese history at The University of California, Irvine.

The Roberts Lectureship, endowed by a generous gift by John Roberts in honor of his son, Christopher (class of 1974), brings to campus distinguished international scholars of classics who lecture on topics designed to show the relevance of classical studies to the modern world. The scholars who accept the invitation give two lectures on the topic of their choice, one aimed at a general audience, another to classics majors and scholars from various classics departments in the region. At both occasions, members of the college community and other guests are invited to discuss the issues with the speaker. Recent scholars have been Michael Puett (Harvard University), Jan M. Ziolkowski (Harvard University), Miriam Leonard (University College London), and Ingrid Rowland (University of Notre Dame, Rome, Italy).

The Harold and Ethel L. Stellfox Visiting Scholars and Writers Program is supported by a fund established by Jean Louise Stellfox, Class of 1960, to honor her parents and to ensure that future generations of students would have the opportunity to interact with renowned literary figures. The program will make it possible each year for a major author, poet or playwright to spend a few days on campus, holding readings, literary discussions and workshops for students and members of the Dickinson community.

Recipients are as follows:

  • 2005 Ian McEwan, British novelist
  • 2006 Rita Dove, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and U.S. poet laureate
  • 2007 Edward Albee, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright
  • 2008 Mario Vargas, Peruvian novelist and literary critic
  • 2009 Maxine Kumin, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and author
  • 2010 Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
  • 2011 Margaret Atwood, Booker Prize-winning author
  • 2012 Henry David Hwang, Tony Award-winning playwright
  • 2013-14 Paul Muldoon, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and musician
  • 2014-15 Lorrie Moore, acclaimed short-story writer
  • 2015-16 Edwidge Danticat, MacArthur Fellow and author
  • 2016-17 John Patrick Shanley, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Tony and Academy Award-winning Playwright and Screenwriter
  • 2017-18 Naomi Shihab Nye, American poet, recipient of the Voertman Poetry Prize
  • 2018-19 Boubacar Boris Dior, award-winning novelist and columnist
  • 2019-20 Roberto Saviano, Mafia exposé author