The Ath is back!

2021 Ath Fellows pose with hands on their hips, lined up prom-style, under the shade of a tree on campus

From left, Athenaeum Fellows Maya Ghosh ’22, Maya T. Kurkhill ’23, and Maria Gutierrez-Vera ’22 outside the Athenaeum.

September 29, 2021

Meet this year's new Ath Fellows

An evening at the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum represents the epitome of the thriving intellectual life at CMC. And this year’s speakers program promises to deliver an illustrious roster of thought leaders and innovators, with deep knowledge and expertise in areas ranging from public health and service, to domestic and global political analysis, as well as the transformative impact of the arts.

In addition to the Ath’s in-person return, 2021-22 programming is especially enriched by the treasured venue’s central role in CMC’s 75th Anniversary celebration. This academic year, the Ath will host a yearlong curated series of special 75th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers focused on three themes: Civilization and Commerce, Unity and Division, and Science and Policy.

The Ath’s prestigious fall lineup debuts on Sept. 13 with 75th Anniversary speaker Atul Gawande, M.D., M.P.H, practicing surgeon, writer, and public health leader. Gawande’s topic is “On Breakthrough vs. Follow-Through Innovation” and will highlight the Science and Policy theme.

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Dr. Atul Gawande delivers his opening night Ath talk 'On Breakthrough vs. Follow-Through Innovation'

A triumphant return to the in-person Athenaeum

“Welcome to the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum and the first in-person event in a year and a half.”

Maya Ghosh ’22 smiles while engaging in a group discussion with fellow student attendees, all seated at the first Ath dinner of the 2021 school year.

Maya Ghosh ’22 may not have intended her podium introduction as a new Athenaeum fellow to be a raucous applause line. But there was something cathartic about the spontaneous reaction that animated the early moments of Dr. Atul Gawande’s opening night talk.

The same special energy greeted guests as they arrived for the 5:30 p.m. outdoor reception, wide smiles carrying through a bustling dinner service at two adjoining Ath patios. Students dressed for an evening out. Conversations between friends and strangers. Ath director Priya Junnar warmly making the rounds. CMC’s John Faranda ’79 explaining the rules of coffee and tea service to newcomers. All the familiar hallmarks were evident.

Welcome back to the Ath, CMC.

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Dr. Atul Gawande delivers his opening night Ath talk 'On Breakthrough vs. Follow-Through Innovation'

Dr. Daniel Kelly ’82 talks psychedelics, neuroscience at the Ath

Microdosing. Mystical experiences. Magic mushrooms.

These are not the typical topics one would expect a brain surgeon to explore, yet they were the basis for Dr. Daniel Kelly’s talk, “Past, Present & Future of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy: A New Dawn for Mental Health and Neuroscience” at the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum on Sept. 16.

As he began, Kelly ’82 seemingly read the minds of many in the audience, when he asked, “Why would a neurosurgeon get into this line of work?”

His answer: “Because I think that this is going to be a game changer,” predicting that the “psychedelic renaissance” will “transform the neurosciences and behavioral healthcare.”

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Anne Bergman, Gilien Silsby, Thomas Rozwadowski


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