Marian Miner Cook

A distinctive
feature of social and
cultural life at CMC


Current Semester Schedule


Speaker programming will resume in person at the Athenaeum on Monday, September 13, 2021, at 5:30 p.m.


Mon, September 13, 2021
Dinner Program
Atul Gawande

We have had a century of scientific investment in breakthrough innovation that has transformed the potential of lives and society. But it has not been matched by investment in follow-through innovation to deliver these breakthroughs widely. Atul Gawande, M.D., M.P.H, practicing surgeon, writer, and public health leader, believes that the science and study of systems, however, is producing solutions demonstrating massive potential to save lives and reduce suffering.   

As one of CMC’s 75th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers, Dr. Gawande will highlight issues in “Science and Policy,” one of the three academic collaboration themes of our special 75th Anniversary celebration.

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Atul Gawande, M.D., M.P.H., is a surgeon, writer, and public health leader. He is a practicing endocrine surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He is founder and chair of Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation, and of Lifebox, a nonprofit organization making surgery safer globally. He is also co-founder of CIC Health, which operates COVID-19 testing and vaccination nationally, and served as a member of the Biden transition COVID-19 Advisory Board. Recently, he was nominated by President Biden to lead Global Health, including COVID, at USAID.

In addition, Gawande has been a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine since 1998 and written four New York Times best-selling books: "Complications," "Better," "The Checklist Manifesto," and "Being Mortal." He is the winner of two National Magazine Awards, AcademyHealth’s Impact Award for highest research impact on healthcare, a MacArthur Fellowship, and the Lewis Thomas Award for writing about science.

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Tue, September 14, 2021
Dinner Program
Katy Milkman

Behavioral scientist, award-winning Wharton professor, co-director of the Behavior Change for Good Initiative, and Choiceology podcast host Katy Milkman has devoted her career to the study of behavior change. In her ground-breaking book "How to Change," Milkman delves into the economics and psychology of change.

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Katy Milkman is the James G. Dinan Professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and holds a secondary appointment at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine. Her research explores ways that insights from economics and psychology can be harnessed to change consequential behaviors for good, such as savings, exercise, vaccination take-up, and discrimination.

Milkman has received numerous awards for her research including an early career award from the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences. When under 30, she was named one of the world’s top 40 business school professors under 40 by Poets and Quants and she was a finalist for the Thinkers 50 2017 Radar Thinker Award.

She has published articles in leading social science journals such as Management Science, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and The Journal of Finance and reached a wide audience through regular coverage in major media outlets such as NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Financial Times, and Harvard Business Review. She also frequently writes about topics related to behavioral science for The Washington Post and Scientific American. In 2018, she began hosting Charles Schwab’s popular podcast “Choiceology with Katy Milkman”, which explores key lessons from behavioral economics about decision making.

A multiple-time recipient of the excellence in teaching award for the Wharton undergraduate division, Milkman was voted Wharton's “Iron Prof” by the school’s MBA students for a PechaKucha-style presentation of her research, and has repeatedly been one of ten finalists for the Anvil Award for Wharton’s most outstanding MBA teacher.

She is the former president of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, an APS Fellow, and an associate editor at Management Science, where she has handled manuscripts about behavioral economics since 2013. She has worked with numerous organizations on research and/or consulting, including Humana, Google, Wipro, Cummins Engines, the U.S. Department of Defense, 24 Hour Fitness and the American Red Cross. Katy co-directs the Behavior Change for Good Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, whose work is being chronicled by Freakonomics Radio.

Milkman received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University (summa cum laude) in operations research and financial engineering and her Ph.D. from Harvard University's joint program in computer science and business.


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Thu, September 16, 2021
Dinner Program
Daniel F. Kelly '82

Daniel Kelly, M.D. '82, a neurosurgeon and neuroscientist, will discuss the history, current state and future opportunities of psychedelic-assisted therapies for a wide spectrum of mental health, and other neuroscience disorders including depression, anxiety, addiction, and PTSD. He will provide an overview of ongoing clinical trials with psilocybin, MDMA and other psychedelics and describe current clinical trials at Pacific Treatment & Research in Psychedelics (TRIP) program.

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Daniel F. Kelly, M.D. ‘82 is director of Pacific Neuroscience Institute (PNI) at Providence Saint John’s Health Center and professor of neurosurgery at Saint John’s Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, California. He is internationally recognized for advancing techniques of minimally invasive “keyhole” and endoscopic brain tumor surgery. He has also overseen development of innovative programs at PNI including the launch of Pacific Brain Health Center in 2018 focused on cognitive, memory and mood disorders, and has been the creative force behind PNI’s Treatment & Research in Psychedelics (TRIP) program.

Kelly is a 1982 graduate of Claremont McKenna College where he studied biology and chemistry. He attended Georgetown University School of Medicine and completed a neurosurgical residency training in 1993 at George Washington University Medical Center. He was professor of neurosurgery and vice-chief of clinical affairs for the UCLA Division of Neurosurgery until 2007 when he joined JWCI and Providence Saint John’s Health Center, where he currently serves on the Saint John’s Board of Directors and is chief of neurosurgery.


View Video: YouTube with Daniel Kelly '82

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Mon, September 20, 2021
Dinner Program
Mark Juergensmeyer

Insurrections related to the rise of neo-nationalism are a global phenomenon. The mob attack on the capital on January 6 in Washington D.C. has some eerie parallels with the startling resurgence of the Taliban in August. Both were attempts to reject what was perceived to be alien control of their country and to subvert the democratic process by movements with a religio-nationalist agenda. Mark Juergensmeyer, William F Podlich Distinguished Fellow and Visiting Professor of Religious Studies at Claremont McKenna College, and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Global Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, places these events in the larger context of the global rise of neo-nationalism.

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Mark Juergensmeyer is the William F Podlich Distinguished Fellow and Visiting Professor of Religious Studies at Claremont McKenna College and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Global Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the founding director of global studies and the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies.

He is a pioneer in the global studies field, focusing on global religion, religious violence, conflict resolution and South Asian religion and politics. He has published more than three hundred articles and twenty books, including the revised and expanded fourth edition of the award-winning “Terror in the Mind of God” (University of California Press, 2017), and his co-edited “Oxford Handbook of Global Studies” (Oxford University Press, 2018). His most recent book is "God at War: A Meditation on Religion and Warfare".

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Wed, September 22, 2021
Dinner Program
Steve Bullock '88 P'24 and David Dreier '75, panelists; Jack Pitney, moderator

In today’s world, civil discourse is the exception rather than the rule. That's precisely why the Dreier Roundtable wants to recognize public servants who engage in a vigorous clash of ideas while recognizing that their political adversary is not their enemy. Steve Bullock ‘88 P’24, former 2-time governor of Montana, exemplifies the measured and thoughtful approach the country needs. Accordingly, Bullock is the first recipient of the annual Dreier Roundtable Civility Award. Following the presentation of the award, CMC's Jack Pitney, Roy P. Crocker Professor of Politics at CMC, will moderate a bipartisan discussion with Governor Bullock and Congressman David Dreier '75 on the future of the two political parties. 


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Born in Missoula, Montana, and raised in Helena blocks away from the State Capitol, Steve Bullock '88 P'24  is a product of public schools, graduating from Helena High. He received his undergraduate degree from Claremont McKenna College and law degree from Columbia University School of Law.

Bullock served as Montana’s attorney general from 2009-2013. As attorney general, Bullock defended Montana’s hundred-year ban on corporate campaign spending, gaining national prominence for leading the challenge to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

Bullock was elected Montana’s 24th Governor, serving from 2013-2021. He worked with a Republican-majority legislature to improve access to health care, kick dark money out of state elections, make record investments in education, protect access to public lands, invest in infrastructure, and strengthen Montana’s economy. Bullock brought diverse interests together to address challenging issues, from sage grouse and forest management to the Main Street Montana Project. By executive action, he led the nation in preserving net neutrality and combating dark money. Nationally, Bullock was elected Chair of the National Governors Association, Western Governors Association and Democratic Governors Association.

Since leaving public office, he served as an Institute of Politics Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School, is serving as the court-appointed Independent Monitor over Purdue Pharma, and is serving on various corporate, political and nonprofit boards and committees.  

Prior to serving in elected office, Bullock’s jobs included Montana Assistant Attorney General, attorney in private practice, adjunct instructor at George Washington University Law School, and Tour Boat Captain on the Missouri River. 

David Dreier '75 was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1980, where he served until January 2013. In Congress, he served as the youngest—and the first from California—chairman of the Rules Committee, playing a pivotal role in fashioning all legislation for debate in the House.

Serving 32 years in Congress and as longtime Chairman of the House Rules Committee, Dreier was a co-sponsor of the first Bipartisan Retreat Planning Committee in 1997, noting that “I believe greater civility in the House is a cause certainly worth pursuing”; widely known for his belief in reaching across the aisle, NBC news noted when he retired from Congress in 2013 that “Dreier Departure Bad News for Congressional Civility.”  

Dreier received his B.A. from Claremont McKenna College in 1975 and his M.A. in American government from Claremont Graduate University the following year. He serves as a trustee at CMC.

This inaugural Civility Award and subsequent discussion is sponsored by the Dreier Roundtable at CMC.


View Video: YouTube with David Dreier '75, Steve Bullock '88 P'24, John J. Pitney, Jr.


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Thu, September 23, 2021
Dinner Program
Sameer Pandya

Sameer Pandya, associate professor of Asian American Studies at U.C. Santa Barbara and author of the novel "Members Only" and the story collection "The Blind Writer", will use the historical and contemporary example of South Asians in America to explore ideas of exclusion, race, and belonging in the brown space between black and white. The talk celebrates the 10th Anniversary of the Center for Writing and Public Discourse at CMC.

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Sameer Pandya is a fiction writer and an interdisciplinary literary and cultural studies scholar whose fiction and scholarship considers the question of cultural dislocation and racial identity among South Asian Americans. His first book “The Blind Writer: Stories and a Novella,” longlisted for the PEN/Open Book Award, follows the lives of first‑ and second‑generation Indian Americans living in contemporary California. His novel “Members Only,” which considers the racial politics of our current moment, was named an NPR Best Books of 2020 and was a finalist for the 90th Annual California Book Award in Fiction. His scholarly essays have been published in the Journal of Asian American Studies, South Asian Popular Culture and Amerasia. Pandya has also published widely in the popular press, with work appearing in The Atlantic, ESPN, Salon, Sports Illustrated, New York Daily News, among other places. 

Pandya graduated with highest honors from U.C. Davis and earned his Ph.D. in the Program in Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford University. He is an associate professor of Asian American Studies at U.C. Santa Barbara.

Professor Pandya’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Center for Writing and Public Discourse and celebrates the 10th Anniversary of the Center for Writing and Public Discourse at CMC.


View Video: YouTube with Sameer Pandya


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Mon, September 27, 2021
Dinner Program
Anna Deavere Smith

One of the most hailed and provocative theatre artists of our time, Anna Deavere Smith explores current events from multiple points of view and combines the journalistic technique of interviewing her subjects with the art of interpreting their words through performance. In her powerful first-person storytelling, she brings attention to youth who, through poverty, are vulnerable to becoming embroiled in cycles of incarceration. Drawing from interviews with more than 250 people living and working within a challenged system, Smith depicts the personal accounts of students, parents, teachers, and administrators caught in America’s school-to-prison pipeline and shines a light on a lost generation of American youth. 

As one of CMC’s 75th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers, Anna Deavere Smith will highlight issues in “Unity and Division,” one of the three academic collaboration themes of our special 75th Anniversary celebration.

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Anna Deavere Smith is an actress, playwright, teacher, and author. She is credited with creating a new form of theater and is applauded for her one-woman shows. Her most recent original work, "Notes from the Field," looks at the vulnerability of youth, the criminal justice system, and contemporary activism. The New York Times named the stage version among The Best Theater of 2016 and TIME Magazine called it one of the Top 10 Plays of the Year. HBO premiered the film version in February 2018. It was nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award.

By looking at current events from multiple points of view, Smith’s theater combines the journalistic technique of interviewing her subjects with the art of interpreting their words through performance. Plays include Fires In the Mirror, Twilight: Los Angeles, House Arrest, and Let Me Down Easy. Twilight: Los Angeles was nominated for two Tony Awards. Fires in the Mirror was runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize.

In 2012, President Obama awarded Smith the National Endowment for the Humanities Medal. She is a recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. Other awards include the prestigious 2013 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for achievement in the arts, the George Polk Career Award in Journalism, and the Ridenhour Courage Award. In 2015, she was named the Jefferson Lecturer, the nation’s highest honor in the humanities. She has been given several honorary degrees including those from Yale, Juilliard, University of Pennsylvania, Smith College, and Spelman.

Smith is also a television and film actress. Credits include such shows as Shonda Rhimes’s new “untitled project”, ABC’s series For the People and Blackish. She also co-starred on Showtime’s Nurse Jackie and was featured on the long running series, The West Wing. Films include The American President, Rachel Getting Married, Philadelphia, Dave, Rent, and Human Stain.

Smith is a Full Professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where she founded the former Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue.

Reproduced from


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Tue, September 28, 2021
Dinner Program
Naomi Bagdonas '09

Work has changed. With digital transformation, remote work, stress and uncertainty, it's harder than ever to foster connection, joy, and well-being within teams and organizations. But research shows there’s hope in humor—and that a sense of humor just might be one of the most under-leveraged assets at work and in life. Naomi Bagdonas ’09, author of the bestselling book "Humor, Seriously” teaches courses at Stanford's Graduate School of Business about the power of humor. Sharing findings from behavioral scientists, advice from world-class comedians, and stories from inspiring leaders, she will reveal how you can use humor to be more effective at work and more joyful in life. Seriously.

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A corporate strategist, executive coach, and leading expert in the intersection of humor and business, Naomi Bagdonas '09 is the coauthor of the national bestseller "Humor, Seriously" and a lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. 

Bagdonas facilitates interactive sessions for boards and leadership teams of Fortune 100 companies and nonprofits, and helps leaders create cultures of levity, creativity, and inclusivity within their organizations. She advises executives and celebrities for events ranging from Saturday Night Live and The Today Show appearances to company all-hands meetings and political campaign speeches. 

Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Sports Illustrated, Forbes, Financial Times, Good Morning America, and on her mother's fridge.

In her spare time, Bagdonas runs a program teaching improv comedy in San Francisco's county jail, backpacks in the Sierras, and fosters a revolving door of rescue dogs whom she adores and who systematically destroy everything she owns.

She's a proud Claremont McKenna College grad where she studied economics and psychology as a Robert Day Scholar and whose time here set her on a trajectory for a nontraditional and very fun career (she says, "Thanks, CMC!"). She also holds a MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.


View Video: YouTube with Naomi Bagdonas '09

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Wed, September 29, 2021
Dinner Program
Ilan Wurman '09

In this talk, Ilan Wurman ‘09, associate professor of law at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and author of "The Second Founding: An Introduction to the Fourteenth Amendment," will discuss the nation's first civil rights struggle that culminated in the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and the surprising meanings of the amendment's guarantees of due process, the equal protection of the laws, and the privileges and immunities of citizenship.

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Ilan Wurman '09 is an associate professor at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, where he teaches administrative law and constitutional law. He writes on administrative law, separation of powers, and constitutionalism, and his academic writing has appeared in the Yale Law Journal, the Stanford Law Review, the University of Chicago Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the Duke Law Journal, and the Texas Law Review among other journals. He is also the author of "A Debt Against the Living: An Introduction to Originalism" (Cambridge 2017), and "The Second Founding: An Introduction to the Fourteenth Amendment" (Cambridge 2020). 

Prior to entering academia, Wurman clerked for the Honorable Jerry E. Smith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and practiced law for three-and-a-half years at Winston & Strawn in Washington, D.C. He also served as deputy general counsel on Rand Paul's U.S. presidential campaign in 2015 and as associate counsel on Tom Cotton's U.S. Senate campaign in 2014. He is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Claremont McKenna College.

Professor Wurman will deliver the Salvatori Center's 2021 Lofgren Lecture on American Constitutionalism. 


View Video: YouTube with Ilan Wurman '09

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Mon, October 4, 2021
Dinner Program
Ryan Cirz

Antibiotics were heralded as a turning point in medicine in the mid 20th century. Today, the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria poses a growing and formidable challenge to the future of 21st century medicine. Yet, despite this looming danger and demonstrated medical need, the antibiotic drug development sector has deteriorated over the past twenty years, with a rapidly accelerated breakdown starting in 2019. The development of new antibiotics presents scientific challenges that require significant, sustained investment. Ryan Cirz, a biochemist and entrepreneur with a background in molecular biology and genetics, will discuss the scientific, societal, and economic hurdles of developing new antibiotics today.

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Ryan Cirz is the CEO/CSO of Revagenix, Inc., a preclinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of life-changing and life-saving medicines. Previously, he was founder and vice president of research at Achaogen where he oversaw the early-stage (pre-investigational new drug) pipeline and provided intellectual insight/support to all things related to infectious diseases, including late-stage development, commercialization, and medical affairs. Achaogen focused on discovering, developing, and commercializing innovative antibacterials to treat multi-drug resistant infections.

Cirz earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Scripps Research Institute and his Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and molecular biology from Penn State University.


View Video: YouTube with Ryan Cirz

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Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum

Claremont McKenna College
385 E. Eighth Street
Claremont, CA 91711

Phone: (909) 607-8244


Phone: (909) 621-8244
Fax: (909) 621-8579