• Student at the Athenaeum

    Marian Miner Cook

    A distinctive
    feature of social and
    cultural life at CMC

Welcome to The Athenaeum

Welcome to Athenaeum and the spring 2019 speaker program.

Unique in American higher education, the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum (the “Ath”) is a signature program of Claremont McKenna College. Four nights a week during the school year, the Ath brings scholars, public figures, thought leaders, artists, and innovators to engage with the CMC and Claremont College community in the Eggert Dining Room. In addition, the Ath also hosts lunch speakers, roundtables, and smaller presentations in its two auxiliary dining rooms.

For decades, the Ath has hosted a spectrum of luminaries with expertise and insight on a wide range of topics, both historical and contemporary. In the Ath’s intimate yet stimulating setting, students, faculty, staff, and other community members gather to hear the speaker, pose questions, and also to build community and exchange ideas over a shared meal.

At the core of the Ath is a longstanding commitment to student growth and learning. Central to the Ath are its two student Fellows, selected annually to host, introduce, and moderate discussion with the featured speaker. Priority is given to students in attendance during the question-and-answer session following every presentation. Moreover, speakers often take extra time to visit a class, meet with student interest groups, or give an interview to the student press and podcast team.

We look forward to seeing you at the Ath.

Priya Junnar

Monday, January 28, 2019 - Evening Program
Will the real Dr. Martin Luther King please stand up?
Timothy W. Wright III '77
As we celebrate a national holiday commemorating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Timothy Wright III ’77, lawyer, public servant, theologian, and activist asks who, really, do we celebrate? Is it the gentle Dr. King of “I have a dream” where he saw black kids, white kids, and brown kids walking hand in hand? Or was it the Dr. King, who in the same speech, admonished the unspeakable horrors of police brutality inflicted on black people? Or will we celebrate the Dr. King whom Dr. James Cone calls America’s greatest theologian, asserting, “If theology is a disciplined endeavor to interpret the meaning of the gospel for the present time, and if the gospel is God’s liberation of the poor from bondage, then I would claim that no one has articulated the Christian message of freedom more effectively, prophetically, and creatively in America than Martin Luther King, Jr.” Will the real Dr. King please stand up!

Timothy W. Wright III '77 was born and raised in Compton and attended Compton High School. As student body president, Wright served as student representative to the Compton Unified School Board of Trustees. A varsity football player, he served as "Helm's Hall of Fame" scholar-athlete in his senior year before attending Claremont Men’s College.

As the first in his family to attend college, Wright points to the inspiration of Dr. King Jr. as his greatest and seminal inspiration for attending college and law school. Wright strove to become an asset to the campaign for human rights and justice that Dr. King would come to symbolize.

At Claremont Mens’ College, Wright researched and wrote his senior thesis entitled, "Indicators of Underdevelopment: A Case Study of the Angolan Economy." During law school, as a student activist in the anti-apartheid movement, Wright worked with the United Nations on legal matters pertaining to the independence of several African countries. As a lawyer, Wright participated in the constitutional negotiations in Cape Town, South Africa, that led to the release of Nelson Mandela. Wright also served as a legal participant with the U.N. Council for Namibia and as an international election monitor for South Africa's first free elections where he was assigned to monitor the elections in the Western Cape teaming with Nigerian President Obasanjo of Nigeria and New York Mayor David Dinkins.

Wright served as special counsel and director of intergovernmental affairs for former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington and was commissioner of the department of economic development for the City of Chicago under two administrations. Wright has also served as President Bill Clinton’s first director of domestic policy and in various capacities in the administrations of Presidents Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. He also served as chief of staff for Congressman Bobby L. Rush.

Wright was a director for the Southern African Economic Development Fund along with Ambassador Andrew Young and was a director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. He has also served as chairman of the Sub-Saharan African Advisory Committee of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

In January 2010, Wright was one of the winners in Politico magazine’s second annual “Reed Awards,” which are presented to “political and public affairs professionals at the top of their game,” according to the magazine. Wright was an award recipient in the special category, “Best Bare-Knuckled Street Fight Victory,” for his work, as Illinois senator Roland Burris’ lead attorney, in getting the U.S. Senate to allow Burris to obtain his appointed U.S. Senate seat.

Wright received a dual degree both in political science and economics from Claremont Mens’ College in 1977; a Juris Doctor from UCLA School of Law in 1983; a Masters of Divinity degree from the Chicago Theological Seminary in May 2018; he is currently studying for his Doctorate in Ministry Degree. He is a member of the Prophetic Leader Cohort at McCormick Theological Seminary, specializing in Liberation Ecclesiology, faith-based community economic development in urban communities.

Mr. Wright will deliver the 2019 Martin Luther King, Jr., Commemorative Lecture.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019 - Evening Program
Identity and Citizenship
Mark Lilla
In an age of identity consciousness, Mark Lilla, professor of humanities at Columbia University and author of “The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics” explores what has happened to the idea of equal citizenship and whether it again can serve as a foundation of liberal politics.

Mark Lilla was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1956, and was educated at the University of Michigan and Harvard University. After holding professorships at New York University and the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, he joined Columbia University in 2007 as professor of the humanities. He has been awarded fellowships by the Russell Sage Foundation, the Institut d’Etudes Avancées (Paris), the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), and the American Academy in Rome. In 1995 he was inducted into the French Order of Academic Palms.

Lilla is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books, the New York Times, and publications worldwide. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. He lectures widely and has delivered the Weizmann Memorial Lecture in Israel and the Carlyle Lectures at Oxford University. In 2015, Overseas Press Club of America awarded him its prize for Best Commentary on International News in Any Medium.

Professor Lilla’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Salvatori Center at CMC.

Photo credit: Christophe Dellory

Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - Evening Program
Black Silent Majority: Race, Class, and the Politics of Punishment
Michael J. Fortner
Michael Fortner, assistant professor of political science at City University of New York’s Graduate Center and author of “Black Silent Majority: The Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Politics of Punishment” will address the rise of crime and drug addiction in African American communities in the post-Civil Rights era and discuss the role the black middle class played in the development of mass incarceration.  

Michael Javen Fortner is assistant professor of political science at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. He received a B.A. in political science and African American studies from Emory University, and a M.A. in government and a Ph.D. in government and social policy from Harvard University.

Fortner is the author of “Black Silent Majority: The Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Politics of Punishment” (Harvard University Press, 2015), a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and winner of the New York Academy of History’s 2016 Herbert H. Lehman Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in New York History. With Amy Bridges, he co-edited Urban Citizenship and American Democracy (SUNY Press, 2016).

He has also been published in The New York Times, Newsweek, and Dissent magazine, and his research has been covered in major media outlets, such as the New Yorker, New York Magazine, the Daily Beast, Time, WNYC and NPR.

Fortner is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Urban History and Urban Affairs Review.

Thursday, January 31, 2019 - Evening Program
Negotiating Change: What We Can Learn from Complex International Negotiations
Wendy R. Sherman
Wendy Sherman, former U.S. under-secretary of state for political affairs and the successful lead negotiator for the multilateral, complex deal with Iran, reveals strategies and tactics from her years of high-level international diplomacy that can help achieve successful outcomes in business negotiations in a global economy, international relations, and the global marketplace.

Wendy R. Sherman is senior counselor at Albright Stonebridge Group and former under-secretary of State for political affairs. She teaches at the Harvard Kennedy School as a professor of the Practice in Public Leadership and director of the School’s Center for Public Leadership. Sherman serves on the boards of the International Crisis Group and the Atlantic Council and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Aspen Strategy Group. Sherman led the U.S. negotiating team that reached agreement on a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between the P5+1, the European Union, and Iran for which, among other diplomatic accomplishments, she was awarded the National Security Medal by President Barack Obama.  

Prior to her service at the Department of State, she was vice chair and founding partner of the Albright Stonebridge Group, counselor to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, special advisor to President Bill Clinton, policy coordinator on North Korea, and assistant secretary for legislative affairs under Secretary of State Warren Christopher. Early in her career, she managed Senator Barbara Mikulski’s successful campaign for the U.S Senate and served as director of EMILY’S list. She served on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, was chair of the board of directors of Oxfam America and served on the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Policy Board and Congressional Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation and Terrorism. 

Sherman is the author of “Not for the Faint of Heart: Lessons in Courage, Power and Persistence” published by Public Affairs, September 2018.

Ambassador Sherman will deliver the Spring 2019 Lecture for the Res Publica Society Speaker Series.

Friday, February 01, 2019 - Lunch Program
Green Careers: How a Liberal Arts Education Prepared me for a Career in Renewable Energy
Carolyn Campbell '11
Carolyn Campbell ‘11, the renewable energy manager at Facebook, will reflect on her experience working in renewable energy and climate mitigation consulting and in leveraging her renewable energy background to help Facebook reduce its carbon footprint. She will highlight new advances in the industry, while reflecting on how her liberal arts degree has gotten her to where she is today.

Carolyn Campbell ’11 is a member of Facebook's Global Energy Team. In this role, she is responsible for sourcing renewable energy to power the company's U.S. data centers. Prior to joining Facebook, Campbell specialized in power purchase agreements (PPAs), most recently in advising companies on clean energy purchases as part of 3Degrees' Energy & Climate Practice and previously in marketing power for Recurrent Energy, a utility-scale solar project developer. She started her in career as a market research analyst for Greentech Media's solar research division. 

Campbell received a Bachelor of Arts in Environment, Economics, & Politics from Claremont McKenna College in 2011. She also served as student manager at the Robert's Environmental Center.

Ms. Campbell’s Athenaeum presentation is the keynote address for the 2019 Green Careers Conference sponsored by the Roberts Environmental Center. 

Monday, February 04, 2019 - Evening Program
Counterculture Faith
Erick Erickson
Erick Erickson, editor of The Resurgent and conservative commentator, will explore how people of faith navigate the waters of American politics that increasingly call on those of faith to make sacrifices and to compromise their beliefs to advance a political agenda.

Noted a one of the most influential conservatives in America, Erick Erickson is the editor of The Resurgent, a Fox News Contributor, and host of his own radio program on the nation's most listened to news/talk station, WSB Radio out of Atlanta. Erickson is also working on his Master of Divinity Degree at Reformed Theology Seminary. He is frequently read and cited by leaders of both political parties.

In his latest book, “Before You Wake”, Erickson leaves politics behind and addresses his near-death experience during the height of the 2016 campaign season. Writing letters to his children, he focuses on what they and others should know about faith, family, and friendship, in addition to all his family's favorite recipes. Erickson regularly travels the world speaking on American politics, faith issues, and the intersection of faith and politics in America today. In addition to speaking, Erickson occasionally preaches drawing on his seminary education. Erickson is also the author of “You Will Be Made to Care,” a book about rising Christian persecution in America.

For six years, Erickson practiced law focused on corporate transactions and estates, with side focuses in both election law and indigent criminal defense. For three years Erick was a political commentator for CNN and was editor of RedState.com for more than a decade prior to starting The Resurgent.

Meal reservations for this event are not yet available.
Tuesday, February 05, 2019 - Evening Program
Is ISIS Over?"
Mark Juergensmeyer
Mark Juergensmeyer, professor of sociology and global studies, at U.C. Santa Barbara, will give an illustrated analysis of the rise of ISIS and its current state of regional and global influence, based on site visits to the region, interviews, and surveillance of jihadi chat rooms online. 

Mark Juergensmeyer is distinguished professor of sociology and global studies, and affiliate professor of religious 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).

Professor Juergensmeyer's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Kutten Lectureship in Religious Studies at CMC.

Meal reservations for this event are not yet available.
Wednesday, February 06, 2019 - Evening Program
Serial: Murder Case of State vs. Adnan Syed
Rabia Chaudry
Made immensely popular through the global phenomenon of the podcast Serial, this case examined the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee and the subsequent conviction of Adnan Syed. Rabia Chaudry, who took Syed’s case to Serial producer and host, has been Adnan’s public advocate and friend for the past 17 years and has now written “Adnan’s Story” in collaboration with Adnan, documenting the twists and turns of this dramatic story.

Rabia Chaudry is an attorney, podcaster, and recent Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) where she researched the intersection of religion and violent extremism. She is the co-host and co-producer of the hit criminal justice podcast “Undisclosed,” with nearly 250 million downloads, and the author of the New York Times bestselling book, “Adnan’s Story.”  She is also the co-producer and co-host of the weekly podcast “The 45th,” which examines the politics and policies of the Trump administration.

Prior to her work with USIP, Chaudry served as an International Security Fellow at the New America Foundation (NAF), where she led a countering violent extremism (CVE) community project in partnership with Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Her work at NAF focused on the empowerment of American Muslim communities in social media advocacy. Chaudry also is the founder of the Safe Nation Collaborative, a CVE training firm. Safe Nation Collaborative worked on two fronts: providing CVE and cultural competency training to law enforcement, correctional, and homeland security officials, and providing national security and CVE training to Muslim communities and institutions.

Chaudry is a fellow of the Truman National Security Project, a fellow of the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute, a fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute, a member of the national Muslim-Jewish Advisory Committee, and a member of the Vanguard Board of the Aspen Institute’s Society of Fellows.  She is a frequent writer and public speaker on issues of social and criminal justice, faith and gender, and national security.

She is the recipient of the Truman National Security Project’s 2015 Harry S. Truman Award for Communications & Media Influence, a 2015 Carnegie Corporation Great Immigrant, and the recipient of the 2015 Healing & Hope award by the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth.

Chaudry received her Juris Doctorate from the George Mason School of Law and practiced immigration and civil rights law for over a decade before moving into the CVE policy sphere.

Ms. Chaudry’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Center for Public Writing and Discourse and the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies, both at CMC.

Meal reservations for this event are not yet available.
Thursday, February 07, 2019 - Lunch Program
A Foreigner and a Stranger: The Life, Death, and Legacy of a Jewish Woman Writer in 20th-Century France
Susan Rubin Suleiman
Irène Nénirovsky was a Russian Jewish immigrant to France who achieved a brilliant career as a novelist during the 1930s but was deported as a “foreign Jew” in 1942 and died in Auschwitz. Like many deported "foreign Jews" in France during the war, she was forgotten for many years. Her two daughters, who survived the war as hidden children, were instrumental in reviving their mother’s name when they grew to adulthood. Némirovky became famous in 2004, when her posthumous book "Suite Française" was published and became an international bestseller. Susan Rubin Suleiman, professor of French literature and comparative literature at Harvard University and author of "The Némirovsky Question: The Life, Death, and Legacy of a Jewish Writer in 20th Century France," will discuss Némirovsky’s life and works in the context of modern European history and literature.

Susan Rubin Suleiman was born in Budapest and emigrated to the U.S. as a child with her parents. She has been a professor of French literature and comparative literature at Harvard University since 1981. Her books include “Authoritarian Fictions: The Ideological Novel as a Literary Genre” (1983); “Subversive Intent: Gender, Politics, and the Avant-Garde” (1990); “Crises of Memory and the Second World War” (2006); and the mémoire “Budapest Diary: In Search of the Motherbook” (1996). Her latest book is “The Némirovsky Question: The Life, Death, and Legacy of a Jewish Writer in 20th Century France” (2016).

Suleiman has won many honors, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute, and the Central European University. In 1990, she received the Radcliffe Medal for Distinguished Achievement, and in 1992 she was decorated by the French Government as an Officer of the Order of Academic Palms (Palmes Académiques).  In April 2018 she was awarded France’s highest honor, the Légion d’Honneur.

Professor Suleiman’s talk is co-sponsored by the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights at Claremont McKenna College and the French Studies Department at Scripps College.

Meal reservations for this event are not yet available.
Thursday, February 07, 2019 - Evening Program
Apollo in the Age of Aquarius: How Grassroots Politics Grounded the Space Race
Neil Maher
Neil Maher, professor of environmental and political history at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University, will explore the interrelationship between the space race to the moon and the grassroots struggles of the 1960s era, including, in particular, those of the civil rights, environmental, and feminist movements.

Neil M. Maher is a professor of history at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University at Newark, where he teaches American environmental and political history. He has published articles in many academic journals including Social History, Environmental History, the Western Historical Quarterly, and most recently, Modern American History. His first book, “Nature’s New Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Roots of the American Environmental Movement” (Oxford University Press, 2008), received the Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Book Award for the best monograph in conservation history.

Maher’s most recent book, “Apollo in the Age of Aquarius” (Harvard University Press, 2017), examines the interrelationship between the space race and the grassroots political struggles of the 1960s era, including the civil rights, anti-Vietnam war, environmental, feminist, counterculture, and conservative movements. The book was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title (2017) and a Bloomberg View Must Read Book (2017), and recently received the Eugene M. Emme best book award from the American Astronautical Society (2017).

Professor Maher will deliver the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies' 2019 Lerner Lectureship Fund in 1960’s Culture lecture.

Meal reservations for this event are not yet available.

Follow the Athenaeum


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.

The Athenaeum facilitates dynamic interactions and dialogue that underscore
the essence of a liberal arts education.