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 17, 2017 - 5:45pm
2017 Claremont Finance Conference: The Rise of Impact Investing
Maureen Downey '93
Maureen Downey ’93 will provide an overview of what defines “impact investing” and analyze the factors driving growth and interest in this area, review the existing ecosystem and challenges, and provide an overview of existing assets across asset classes. 

Maureen Downey '93 graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in PPE abd economics from Claremont McKenna College and earned an MBA in finance and entrepreneurial management from The Wharton Graduate School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Downey has more than two decades of experience in global finance and private equity investing in both developed and emerging economies. Much of her career has been spent living and working internationally across multiple cultures and she possesses a truly global perspective. She has a track record of success demonstrated through increasing levels of responsibility in investment, new business development, and capital raising roles.  

As an equity principal at Pantheon Ventures, Downey made secondary, primary, and co-investments in developed and emerging markets and was a member of the co-investment and emerging markets investment committees. She was also responsible business development in new markets, business lines, and products for Pantheon. Her strong commercial ability enabled her to identify and develop new business opportunities in Latin America, structure partnerships, create bespoke products and fundraise in multiple geographies as well as co-lead the launch of Pantheon’s first Global Emerging Markets fund.  

Prior to joining Pantheon, Downey was a vice president in Investment anking at Goldman Sachs, & Co, working in London, Paris, and San Francisco. Her execution experience includes a variety of cross-border and domestic M&A and leveraged buy-out transactions, debt restructuring assignments as well as a broad spectrum of capital market financing from equity to high yield across multiple industries. Before joining Goldman Sachs in 1998, she worked for Merrill Lynch in New York in their Fixed Income Division.  

Ms. Downey's Athenaeum event is hosted by the CMC Student Investment Fund with the assistance of Pomona College's Sagehen Capital Management. The conference is co-sponsored by the Financial Economics Institute and the Robert Day Scholars Program. 

Please note that Ms. Downey is replacing Erik Anderson '80 as the keynote speaker.

Meal reservations now open to all of the Claremont Colleges
This event is closed.
Monday, February 20, 2017 - 11:45am
The Appel Scholarship: Writing Matters
2016-17 Appel Scholars
Funded by Joel Appel ‘87, the Appel Fellowship provides first-year students with funding to engage in independent writing projects. Join us as the inaugural Fellows read some of their work—journal entries, novels, newspaper articles and travel narratives—and reflect on their writing experiences. We will also hear about the writing projects that newest Appel scholars hope to pursue. 

The first group of fellows includes Chloe Cho ’19, Emma Henson ’19, Valerie Huang ’19, Nick LaBerge ’19, Blake Lapin '19, Bryn Miller ’19, Reyna Wang ’19, and Melia Wong ’19.

Photograph shows, pictured from left to right: Nick LaBerge, Valerie Huan '19, Emma Henson '19, Chloe Cho '19, and Bryn Miller '19

This event is closed.
Monday, February 20, 2017 - 5:30pm
The Disbelievers – Political Behavior when Data and Personal Experience Conflict
Larry Rosin P'20
Perhaps the most used word in political circles in 2016 was “rigged." Indeed, poll results show that significant numbers of Americans believe that the system is so broken that they no longer accept many “facts” as being true. Larry Rosin P’20 will explore the phenomenon of a world where people no longer believe what they are being told by “experts”; how it led to Trump’s election; and the challenge of governing in such an environment.

Larry Rosin P'20 is the president of Edison Research, which he co-founded in 1994. Edison is best known as the company that performs exit polls for all U.S. Elections for the National Election Pool (a consortium of ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC and the Associated Press). Rosin has been a primary force in building the company into one of the world’s most respected survey research companies, with a particular specialization in media and election polling. In addition, Edison is well known for its groundbreaking media research series “The Infinite Dial” which tracks developments in digital media, and “Share of Ear” which measures all audio usage in the U.S., among many other things. He has presented Edison research at the White House and on Capitol Hill.

During the campaign, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump (and others) argued that America today has been captured by small but powerful interests who have tilted the playing field in their favor. Banks, the political parties, large corporations, sitting politicians, the Obama administration and others were all accused of ‘rigging’ the system. Based on Edison's own polling, there is evidence of a profound disconnect between what statistics are saying about the state of affairs in America and what people actually feel. This phenomenon of a world where everyone questions everything, Rosin will argue, creates enormous challenges for researchers, public policy makers, media, governance, etc.

Rosin is a graduate of Princeton University where he majored in Public and International Affairs, and he received an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Rosin is the featured parent speaker for Family Weekend 2017.

This event is closed.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 5:30pm
Sex, Lies and Politics in the Early Middle Ages
Yitzhak Hen
Yitzhak Hen will discuss the correspondence between Bishop Chrodobert of Tours and Bishop Importunus of Paris, which reveals a fascinating story of episcopal enmity, sex scandals, and political alliance in the Merovingian kingdoms of the seventh century.

Yitzhak Hen is the Anna and Sam Lopin Professor of History at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, where he teaches late antique and early medieval history. An expert on religious and cultural history of the early medieval West, he is interested in the intellectual and religious culture of the post-Roman Barbarian kingdoms of Western Europe and devotes part of his research to the examination of early medieval manuscripts, and to the study of early medieval liturgy in its cultural, social, and religious context.

Hen is the author of Culture and Religion in Merovingian Gaul, AD 481-751 (1995), The Sacramentary of Echternach (1997), The Royal Patronage of Liturgy in Frankish Gaul (2000), and Roman Barbarians: The Royal Court and Culture in the Early Medieval West (2007). He co-edited The Uses of the Past in the Early Middle Ages (2000), The Bobbio Missal: Liturgy and Religious Culture in Merovingian Gaul (2004), among many others. 

Professor Hen's Athenaeum talk is facilitated by a Mellon Visiting Scholar grant.

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 5:30pm
Envisioning the Vastness of Early America: The Origins of California's Early Inhabitants
Steve Hackel
For generations historians have adopted a very narrow narrative of colonial America, one that privileged events related to the American Revolution and the formation of the United States. Steve Hackel will discuss that narrative but also introduce a more recent set of ideas and events that help us to see what this narrative excludes and how the early settlement of California can contribute towards are understanding of the vastness of Early America.

Born and raised in California, Steve Hackel earned his B.A. at Stanford University and his Ph.D. in American History from Cornell University with specializations in early America and the American West. He now teaches at U.C. Riverside.

Within the larger field of early American history, Hackel's research specializes on the Spanish Borderlands, colonial California, and California Indians. He is especially interested in Indian responses to colonialism, the effects of disease on colonial encounters, and new ways of visualizing these processes through digital history.

Hackel has published a biography on Fray Junipero Serra, the principal founder of California's mission system, and a monograph on Indian life in the California missions, as well as numerous essays. He is the general editor of the Early California Population Project and the Project Director for the Early California Cultural Atlas. He co-curated the Huntington Library’s international exhibition, “Junípero Serra and the Legacy of the California Missions.”

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges.
Thursday, February 23, 2017 - 11:45am
Racial Hierarchies and the Historical Process: A Panel Discussion
Daniel Livesay, Sarah Sarzynski, and Tamara Venit-Shelton, panelists
CMC history professors Tamara Venit-Shelton, Daniel Livesay, and Sarah Sarzynski will discuss the strategies they have used to document and analyze racism, racial hierarchies, and the experiences of under-represented groups. The discussion is intended to help students deepen their understanding of the historical process and identify new strategies as they engage in archival research and historical analysis. 

Daniel Livesay, assistant professor of history, focuses his research on slavery in the Colonial Americas, free people of color in the Atlantic world, and the intersections between ideas of race and family in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; slavery and aging in North America and the Caribbean. He is the author of Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race West Indians in Britain and The Atlantic Family, 1733-1833, forthcoming from University of North Carolina Press. He is currently at work on a new project that explores slavery and aging in North America.

Sarah Sarzynski, assistant professor of history, research focus examines modern Brazilian cultural and political history, popular culture and film, the Amazon, the Cold War, social movements, memory and oral history, regionalism and regional identities in Brazil related to poverty, religion, race and gender. She is currently completing a book entitled Revolution in the Terra do Sol: The Cold War in Brazil, which will be published by Stanford University Press.

Tamara Venit Shelton, associate professor of history, focuses on the social history of the American West, with a particular interest in race, labor, and environment. She is the author of A Squatter’s Republic: Land and the Politics of Monopoly, 1850-1900, published by University of California Press. She is currently working on a book project about Chinese doctors in the United States between 1850 and 1945.

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges.
Thursday, February 23, 2017 - 5:30pm
Art Thinking or Inventing Point B in any area of life
Amy Whitaker
Whether making sense of your career or the future of the geopolitical world order, Amy Whitaker asserts that art thinking is a way of creating space to focus on big messy questions, whether you can answer them or not.

Amy Whitaker is a writer, artist, and teacher who works at the intersection of creativity, business, and everyday life and is the author of Art Thinking, a “manifesto and a love story” for how creativity and business go together. A graduate of Williams College, she holds an MBA from Yale University and an MFA in painting from the Slade School of Fine Art at University College London. She is an assistant professor at NYU in Visual Arts Administration.

Whitaker has worked for museums including the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Tate as well as for international financial institutions. She teaches and lectures widely. Her first book, Museum Legs, was selected as the common summer reading assignment for the first year class at RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) in 2010.

The premise of her most recent book, Art Thinking, is that if you are making a work of art in any field, you aren't going from a known point A to a known point B, but rather inventing point B. That process is exploratory and open-ended—and therefore sometimes at odds with the cultural pressures to succeed economically and professionally. The independent thinking behind inventing point B is closely tied to robustness of democratic exchange, to the values of a liberal arts education, and to interdisciplinary approaches to addressing the great problems of our day.

Professor Whitaker's Athenaeum talk is sponsored by the Mellon Creativity Roundtable, Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), the Kravis Leadership Institute (KLI), the Center for Writing and Public Discourse (CWPD), and the Pomona College Museum of Art.

Meal reservations now open to everyone in the Claremont Colleges.
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.

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.

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)

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


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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.