Marian Miner Cook

A distinctive
feature of social and
cultural life at CMC

Open Events

Unique in U.S. higher education, the Athenaeum brings today’s leading scholars and activists, innovators and entrepreneurs, politicians and poets, scientists and musicians to engage our community in an intimate and relaxed setting.

Here is a list of open events at the Ath. If no sign up button appears under the event, it is because the event is no longer accepting reservations.

Unless otherwise noted, lunch begins at 11:45 a.m.; speaker presentations begin at 12:15 p.m. Evening programs typically begin with a reception at 5:30 pm; dinner is served at 6 p.m; and the talk begins at 6:45 p.m. Reservations are required for the meals.

Unless otherwise noted, the talk itself is free and open to all, and no reservations are required to attend the talk only. Seating for only the talk itself is on a first-come basis.

Please click "Sign Up" under individual events to sign up for open events. If there is no button showing, registration is currently closed, but please check back later. When meal reservations are opened to members of the other Claremont Colleges, a note will be added to the event listing. An explanation of the reservation process and a list of frequently asked questions is available. Questions may also be directed to the Ath at

The Athenaeum has a mobile app for Apple and Android devices, enabling you to see what's coming up at the Ath and quickly add events to your mobile calendar. Download the iPhone and iPad version or the Google Play version for Android phones.


Friday, February 24, 2017 - 11:45am
Choose Success: The Four Keys to Self-Leadership
Victoria Halsey
The 2017 Women's Leadership Workshop (WLW) keynote speaker, Victoria Halsey is an inspirational speaker, trainer, author, and instructional designer whose unique blend of energy, intellect, and passion engages and motivates individuals to increase personal and organizational performance.

As vice-president of applied learning for The Ken Blanchard Companies, Dr. Victoria Halsey builds leadership capacity using an inside-out approach focused on situational leadership to help individuals understand themselves so they can be effective leaders.

Halsey is the author of Brilliance by Design, an instructional design strategy with a learner-focused model. She is a co-author of The Hamster Revolution and The Hamster Revolution for Meetings. In addition, she is a co-author of Ken Blanchard’s Leading at a Higher Level, an all-inclusive reference of Blanchard leadership philosophies and teachings.

Halsey received a bachelor’s degree in American studies from the University of California, Davis; a master’s degree in educational administration from San Diego State University; and a Ph.D. in educational leadership from University of San Diego.

Ms. Halsey's  2017 Women's Leadership Workshop talk at the Athenaeum is co-sponsored by RDS, KLI, and the Berger Institute. 

To register for this special half-day program WLW program, please use the WLW 2017 registration form.

This event is closed.
Monday, February 27, 2017 - 5:30pm
Arabic Classical Traditions in the History of the Exact Sciences
Nader El-Bizri
Nader El-Bizri will examine some principal aspects of the Arabic classical traditions in the history of the exact sciences, while also addressing the subsequent transmission and reception of Arabic science within the European medieval and Renaissance circles of scholarship. 

Nader El-Bizri is a professor of philosophy and director of the Civilization Studies Program at the American University of Beirut. He also serves on editorial boards of journals and book series, and is the general editor of the Epistles of the Brethren of Purity series published by Oxford University Press. He has also acted as a consultant to the Science Museum in London, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in Geneva, and the Solomon Guggenheim Museum in New York/Berlin, and has contributed to BBC radio/TV cultural programs. He received various awards including the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences Prize in 2014.

He will focus on the adaptive assimilation and expansion of the various branches of the ancient Greek sources in scientific knowledge within the Arabic intellectual milieu.

Professor El-Bizri's Athenaeum lecture is facilitated by a Mellon Global Fellowship grant.

This event is closed.
Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 5:30pm
Dialogue on National and Global Events
Asuman Aksoy, Hilary Appel, Bill Ascher, Andrew Busch, Heather Ferguson, Pam Gann, Amy Kind, Albert Park, Shanna Rose, Jennifer Taw, and George Thomas, facilitators
CMC faculty across multiple disciplines will each host and facilitate dinner table conversations to discuss current political events through the lens of their area of expertise. After dinner, each table will share a summary of the discussion and answer a question or two from the audience. The event will conclude by 8 pm. (Photo credit: Connor Ortman '18)
Wednesday, March 1, 2017 - 5:30pm
The State Against Blacks
Jason Riley
Have well-intentioned government efforts—starting with the Great Society—helped the black underclass? Jason Riley will assess the track record of these programs and argue that, more often than not, these efforts have been counterproductive and widened racial disparities in income, education, employment and other areas, and will also discuss how blacks fared in the Obama era.

Jason Riley is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, and a commentator for Fox News. After joining the Journal in 1994, he was named a senior editorial writer in 2000 and a member of the editorial board in 2005. Riley writes opinion pieces on politics, economics, education, immigration, and race. A frequent public speaker, he is a longtime commentator for Fox News.

Riley is the author of Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders (2008), which argues for a more free-market-oriented U.S. immigration policy; and Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed (2014), which discusses the track record of government efforts to help the black underclass. He has also worked for USA Today and the Buffalo News. Riley holds a B.A. in English from SUNY-Buffalo.

Mr. Riley's Athenaeum talk is co-sponsored by the Rose Institute of State and Local Government.

(Source: Manhattan Institute Website)

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges.
Thursday, March 2, 2017 - 5:30pm
Against the Loveless World: To Be Raced in America
Anaya Mathis
Does our collective American history assign race to some groups, Blacks, Latinos, people of color of various extractions, while assigning a kind of racial neutrality to whiteness? Using James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time, and her own novel, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, Anaya Mathis will raise and answer questions about how notions of being raced and un-raced manifest historically and contemporarily; and how they impact every aspect of the American experience, from the intimacy of our hearts and minds to the law that govern us.  

Ayana Mathis is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a recipient of the 2014-15 New York Public Library's Cullman Center Fellowship. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, her first novel, was a New York Times Bestseller, a 2013 New York Times Notable Book of the Year, an NPR Best Books of 2013, and was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as the second selection for Oprah's Book Club 2.0. Mathis taught creative writing at The Writer's Foundry MFA Program at St. Joseph's College, Brooklyn. She is an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

Ms. Mathis' Athenaeum talk is co-sponsored by the Center for Writing and Public Discourse.

Photo credit: Elena Seibert

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges.
Monday, March 6, 2017 - 5:30pm
Human Trafficking: Addressing a Global Issue at a Local Level
Maria A. Trujillo ’01
Human trafficking is a problem that impacts all communities across the United States: How can this complex global crime be tackled at the local level? Maria Trujillo ’01 has been working to combat human trafficking locally for over a decade and will share the on-the-ground realities of this work.  

Maria A. Trujillo ’01 serves as the Human Trafficking Program Manager at the Colorado Department of Public Safety, Division of Criminal Justice, Office for Victims Programs. In this role, Trujillo coordinates the efforts of the Colorado Human Trafficking Council that was legislatively established by the Colorado General Assembly. Trujillo joined the division in December 2014 after spending the previous six years in Houston as the executive director of the non-profit organization, United Against Human Trafficking (UAHT), whose mission is to prevent and confront human trafficking by raising public awareness, training front-line professionals and empowering the community to take action. Prior to her time at UAHT, Trujillo lived in Washington, DC where she worked for the international development organization, Health Volunteers Overseas.

Trujillo has served as a speaker and expert technical advisor on the issue of human trafficking at the national, state and local levels, including at the White House. She has also been recognized for her work combating human trafficking as a “Circles of Change” honoree by Building Bridges for Peace (2012) and a “Table Talk” honoree by the University of Houston’s Friends of Women’s Studies (2015).

Trujillo graduated with an IR major from Claremont McKenna College in 2001. She obtained her master’s degree in International Communications from American University.

Ms. Trujillo’s Athenaeum talk is co-sponsored by the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 - 5:30pm
Spanish in the World, Then and Now
Rolena Adorno
Rolena Adorno, professor of Spanish at Yale University, will discuss the importance of the Spanish language, from its emergence on the world stage at the end of the fifteenth century to its status today as the world's second most-spoken language.

Rolena Adorno is the Sterling Professor of Spanish at Yale Univerrsity. Born and raised on a farm in Iowa, she began her study of Spanish-language literatures as an undergraduate at the University of Iowa and then as a Fulbright Scholar to Madrid, Spain. With a strong commitment to undergraduate teaching, Adorno has taught (in Spanish) very popular courses in Latin American literature and culture of the modern and earlier periods, and she is committed to the encouragement of Spanish-language studies for non-native and heritage speakers. A recipient of the Modern Language Association’s Award for Lifetime Scholarly Achievement, she is the first awardee whose work focuses on Hispanic literary and cultural studies.

Adorno's research is devoted to Latin American literature of the Spanish colonial period. Seemingly esoteric, this field of study raises issues pertinent to those faced today. Her books, The Polemics of Possession in Spanish American Narrative, Guaman Poma: Writing and Resistance in Colonial Peru, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, and Colonial Latin American Literature: A Very Short Introduction, explore the uneasy encounters between Spanish and Amerindian cultures, the debates about the rights of conquest and colonization, the emergence of literary voices (those of Amerindian as well as European heritage), and the resonance of the Spanish colonial heritage in Latin American literature today.

Appointed by President Obama in 2009, she serves on the National Council on the Humanities (NEH). She is an honorary professor at La Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017 - 11:45am
An Unlikely and Different Kind of Gay Activist
Cary Davidson '75
Cary Davidson '75 will document his personal and professional involvement in the effort to achieve LGBT equality including his role as general counsel in two major California statewide ballot measure campaigns regarding marriage, including Prop. 8.

Cary Davidson '75 practices political, election, and nonprofit organization law. He represents corporations, trade associations, nonprofit organizations, ballot measure campaigns, candidates and lobbyists, assisting them in complying with the various local, state and federal laws regulating campaigns and lobbying. Davidson has represented or served on the boards of many LGBT organizations, including Equality California, Access Now for Gay & Lesbian Equality, Human Rights Campaign and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

Davidson has served as president of the California Political Attorneys' Association; president of Equality California and Equality California Institute; president of the Claremont McKenna College Alumni Association; president of Congregation Kol Ami; and chair of the Board of Overseers of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. He has received several awards for his civic and community involvement including the Harvey Milk Legacy Award from Christopher Street West (Los Angeles Pride); the Jack L. Stark Award from Claremont McKenna College; the Lifetime Achievement Award and State Farm Good Neighbor Award from Equality California; the Allan Tebbetts Award from the California Political Attorneys Association; and the Guardian of Justice Award from Congregation Kol Ami.

Davidson graduated in 1975 from CMC and received his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School in 1978.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017 - 5:30pm
Shared Humanity through Humor and Story Telling
Firoozeh Dumas
Firoozeh Dumas, following the tradition of oral storytelling that she grew up with in her Iranian-American family, will use family stories and humor to expose our shared humanity and transcend our increasingly divisive world.  

Firoozeh Dumas was born in Abadan, Iran and moved to Whittier, California at the age of seven. 

Dumas grew up listening to her father, a former Fulbright Scholar, recount the many colorful stories of his life. In 2001, with no prior writing experience, Firoozeh decided to write her stories as a gift for her children. Random House published these stories in 2003. Funny in Farsi was on the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Los Angeles Times bestseller lists and was a finalist for the PEN/USA award in 2004 and a finalist in 2005 for an Audie Award for best audio book. (She lost to Bob Dylan.) She was also a finalist for the prestigious Thurber Prize for American Humor, the first Middle Eastern woman ever to receive this honor. (She lost that one to Jon Stewart.) 

In 2008, Dumas published a second set of stories, Laughing Without an Accent, which also became a New York Times bestseller. In 2016, she published her first book of middle grade fiction, It Ain’t so Awful, Falafel and received high praise from readers of all ages.

Dumas has also written for the New York Times, Gourmet Magazine, Los Angeles Times, and many other outlets and has also been a commentator on National Public Radio. She has spoken at hundreds of schools, conferences and festivals. She believes that everyone has a story to tell and that everyone’s story counts.

Ms. Dumas' Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored with the Friends of Claremont Library.

Photo Credit: Francois Dumas

Monday, March 20, 2017 - 5:30pm
Islam and the Humanities & Islam and the Liberal Arts
Tariq al-Jamil and Kambiz GhaneaBassiri '94, panelists; Jamel Velji, moderator
The teaching and researching of Islam has morphed considerably in the last 15 years. Professors Tariq al-Jamil and Kambiz GhaneaBassiri '94 will discuss emerging challenges in the teaching of Islam, including how the curriculum and classroom experience are shaped by current events; how the discipline is shaped by conflict; and how they strive to address issues of inclusion in the teaching of Islam. Jamel Velji, assistant professor of religious studies at CMC, will moderate.  

Tariq al-Jamil is associate professor of religion and chair of the department of religion at Swarthmore College. He is also coordinator of Swarthmore's Islamic Studies Program. al-Jamil is an expert on medieval Islamic social history and law, with a particular focus on Shi'ism. He has conducted research on Sunni-Shi'i relations and addresses issues related to the academic study of Islam and the social history of Iraq, Iran, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. His published works and research interests include: Islam and inter-communal violence, pre-modern religious identity, religious dissimulation, the transmission of knowledge in Islam, and women in Islamic jurisprudence. He is the author of Power and Knowledge in Medieval Islam (I.B. Tauris 2017). Al-Jamil received his B.A. from Oberlin College, M.T.S. from Harvard University, and M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University.

Kambiz GhaneaBassiri '94 is professor of religion and humanities at Reed College. GhaneaBassiri focuses on Islamic social and intellectual history in the classical and modern periods, Islam in America, material dimensions of religion, and religious diversity in US history. He is the author of A History of Islam in America (Cambridge 2010). In 2006 he was named a Carnegie Scholar and in 2012 was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. GhaneaBassiri received his B.A. From Claremont McKenna College in 1994, and his A.M. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. 

Professors Tariq al-Jamil and Kambiz GhaneaBassiri's Athenaeum conversation is co-sponsored by the Kutten Lectureship in Religious Studies at CMC.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 - 11:45am
Being Muslim in America Today
Adeel Zeb
The political climate post 9/11 dramatically changed the experience of Muslims in America. With recent political developments, Muslims further find themselves in difficult and often precarious circumstances. In a TEDx style presentation, Adeel Zeb, the imam of the Claremont Colleges, will offer a first-hand perspective into the emotions, trials, and tribulations of being Muslim in America today. 

Imam Adeel J. Zeb is a Muslim chaplain, interfaith scholar, and frequent speaker. He currently serves as a co-University Chaplain at the Claremont Colleges. Before coming to Claremont in 2016, he was the Muslim Chaplain/Director of Muslim Life at Duke University. He has also served as the Muslim Chaplain/Imam at Wesleyan University, Trinity College, and American University, among others. Zeb is the president elect of the National Association of College and University Chaplains.

He has given Friday khutbah (sermons) on Capitol Hill, at the State Department, and mosques nationally. He has been featured on media including CNN, National Public Radio, the Washington Post, Time Magazine, and the Huffington Post over a 10-year span. He was a participant in the International Higher Education Interfaith Leadership Forum and has completed the prestigious fellowship for the Study of Auschwitz and Preventive Ethics and has certifications in conflict management, interfaith conflict management, and mediation from the United States Institute for Peace.

Zeb holds degrees from Baylor University in business administration and Arees University in traditional Islamic studies, a master's degree in Islamic chaplaincy from Hartford Seminary, and in tajweed and Qur'anic recitation from the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017 - 5:30pm
Dreamland: America's Opiate Epidemic and How We Got To Where We Are
Sam Quinones
Sam Quinones' newest book reads like fiction, but unfortunately it is not. It's the true story of descent into opiate addiction and the sweeping resurgence of heroin from coast to coast.

Sam Quinones is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist and author of three books of narrative nonfiction. His latest book is Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic (Bloomsbury, 2015), for which he traveled across the United States.

Dreamland was selected as one of the Best books of 2015 by,, the Daily Beast, Buzzfeed, Seattle Times, Boston Globe, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Entertainment Weekly, Audible, and in the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Business by Nobel economics laureate Professor Angus Deaton of Princeton University.

Quinones’ previous two highly acclaimed books grew from his 10 years living and working as a freelance writer in Mexico (1994-2004).

Quinones, whose father Ricardo Quinones taught literature at CMC for many years, is formerly a reporter with the L.A. Times, where he worked for 10 years (2004-2014). He is a veteran reporter on immigration, gangs, drug trafficking, the border.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - 5:30pm
Blaxicans of LA: Then and Now
Walter Luis Thompson-Hernandez
By situating the Blaxican (Black-Mexican) experience in the context of the country’s current racial climate, Walter Luis Thompson-Hernandez talk asks: What is the role of multiracial individuals such as Blaxicans in the future of a nation that is becoming increasingly multiracial, multiethnic, and multilingual as each day passes?  

Walter Thompson-Hernandez is a Los Angeles-based social documentary maker, multimedia journalist, and doctoral student at the University of California at Los Angeles. His stories and research have been featured by NPR, CNN, BBC, Fusion, Los Angeles Times, Remezcla, and UNIVISION. His latest academic project will be featured in a forthcoming book titled, Afro-Latinos in Movement: Critical Approaches to Blackness and Transnationalism in the Americas.

Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 5:30pm
President Trump as an Experiment: Disrupting Politics
James Strock
What are we learning in the early months of the Trump administration? James Strock will discuss what's new, what's familiar, and what matters most amid the disruption of American politics and governance underway.

James Strock, an independent entrepreneur and reformer in business, government, and politics, is a frequent speaker 21st century leadership, servant leadership, and presidential leadership. A student of presidential leadership, his first book, Reagan on Leadership: Executive Lessons from the Great Communicator was published in a commemorative edition for the Reagan Centennial. Strock is also the author of Theodore Roosevelt on Leadership. Both books are widely used in business and not-for profit organizations, educational institutions, government agencies, and the military. Strock is also a contributor to the Encyclopedia of Leadership (Goethals and Sorenson, eds.), and wrote the articles on Winston S. Churchill, Ronald Reagan, and Theodore Roosevelt.

In addition to extensive business and legal experience, he has served in senior positions in both federal and state governments. From 1991-97, Strock served in Governor Pete Wilson’s cabinet as California’s founding secretary for environmental protection. Following confirmation by the California State Senate, he led the Cal/EPA, an organization comprising 4,000 employees, achieving worldwide environmental, energy and economic impact. During this time, he also served on the Intergovernmental Policy Advisory Committee to the U.S. Trade Representative. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush appointed Strock to serve as assistant administrator for enforcement (chief law enforcement officer) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where he led a major expansion and reorganization of the national program, while driving civil and criminal enforcement to record levels.

Strock is a graduate of Harvard College (A.B., magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Charles Joseph Bonaparte Scholarship) and Harvard Law School where he was a teaching fellow for Professor Richard Neustadt’s course on presidential leadership. 


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Unless otherwise noted, lunch begins at 11:45 a.m.; speaker presentations begin at 12:15 p.m.
Evening receptions begin at 5:30 p.m.; dinner is served at 6 p.m.; speaker presentations begin at 6:45 p.m.