Raj Chetty, the William A. Ackman Professor of Public Economics at Harvard University

As a child in India, Raj Chetty dreamed of coming to America, a place “where you could do anything.” He still believes that. But his Opportunity Atlas research also shows that the American Dream is far too elusive for many who grow up here, through no fault of their own except a geographical luck-of-the-draw that has prevented millions from accessing high opportunity resources.

Photo by quietbits /

Over the past few years, historical monuments in public spaces have been flash points for anti-colonial and Black Lives Matter protestors. One side has argued for their removal while the other side for their preservation.

A discussion at the Ath contextualized these efforts, providing historical perspectives from three experts whose work focuses on understanding the meaning and intentions of monuments.

Henri Cole showing seashells during his Athenaeum talk

Poet Henri Cole offered a soothing balm for tumultuous times during his virtual Ath appearance.

Cole, who is CMC’s Josephine Olp Weeks Professor of Literature, read 14 of his original poems and took questions from fellow poets, students, and friends.

A finalist for the Pulitzer in 2004, Cole has received many awards for his work, including the Jackson Prize, the Kingsley Tufts Award, the Berlin Prize, the Rome Prize, the Lenore Marshall Award, and the Medal in Poetry from American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Election 2020 Ballot Box illustration

Four government and politics professors came together for a virtual Athenaeum panel to preview the 2020 election and offer a guide to interpreting the early results of the presidential, as well as other key elections across the U.S.

CMC Professors Zachary Courser '99, Jack Pitney, and Andrew Sinclair ’08 were joined by Sara Sadhwani, professor of politics at Pomona College in a Zoom-based discussion on Nov. 2, introduced by Ath Fellow Chris Agard ’21. The panel was sponsored by the Salvatori Center at CMC.

Professor George Thomas (bottom-left) moderates Ath talk with guests Ahkil Amar (top-right) and Steven Calabresi (bottom-right)

What brings together two prominent Constitutional scholars from opposite sides of the political spectrum?

For Akhil Amar and Steven Calabresi, it’s the jurisprudential theory, originalism. The two found common ground during their recent virtual Athenaeum discussion, sponsored by the Salvatori Center’s Lofgren Program in American Constitutionalism. Moderated by CMC Professor George Thomas, the discussion centered on answering the question, “Should We Interpret the Constitution Based on its Original Meaning?”

Peter Rice Zoom Ath

Chairman of Walt Disney Television Peter Rice began his relationship with CMC the same summer that he got his professional jumpstart as an intern in the entertainment industry.

Ibram X. Kendi discusses how to be an anti-racist

Ibram X. Kendi would like to banish the term “not racist” from our vocabulary. The historian, scholar, and writer said it is important for people challenging inequities to actively become antiracist and not merely “not racist.” The reason, he said, is that progenitors of racist ideas have always self-identified their ideas as “not racist.”


How are we adapting to life during the pandemic? While many of us are experiencing brain fog, with a blurred sense of the future, David Eagleman sees a silver lining, an opportunity for our minds during lockdown.

“2020 has brought us events we’ve never before experienced in our lifetimes,” Eagleman said. “We’ve been talking about this for more than 180 days, nearly six months. How are our brains reacting and what does it all mean?”


When the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum’s speaker series kicks off its fall 2020 season next week, it will do so with a focus on pressing national issues—the COVID-19 pandemic, the fight for racial justice, the national election, and data security—front and center of an impressive fall lineup.

William Frankel ’21, Christopher Agard ’21, and Nandeeni Patel ’21

With the new Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum season set to begin next month, three CMC seniors are shaping the speaker series with the entire Claremont McKenna community in mind.

Throughout their CMC experiences, the 2020-21 Woolley Fellows—Christopher Agard ’21, William Frankel ’21, and Nandeeni Patel ’21– have each been inspired by speakers at “the Ath,” a signature program of the College that brings scholars, public figures, thought leaders, artists, and innovators to share their expertise and insights on a wide range of topics.