Ath speakers invoke spirit of CMC community

Ath speakers invoke spirit of CMC community.

CMCers treasure their memories of evenings at “the Ath,” which this fall celebrates 40 years in its current campus location, as the center for the College’s thriving intellectual life.

Claremont McKenna's spirit of constructive dialogue and responsible leadership comes alive four nights a week at the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum, which debuts its 2023-24 speakers programming on Monday, Sept. 11, and officially celebrates its anniversary in true Athenaeum style, with cake and tea on Sept. 12 at 3:30 p.m.

While Priya Junnar, director of the Athenaeum, is on sabbatical for the fall semester, Brian Davidson ’08 takes the reins as interim director. He will also continue to serve as director of Fellowships Advising.

It’s Davidson’s intention this fall “to keep the Athenaeum just as it always has been: as the essential home of intellectual and cultural discourse at CMC,” he said.

Fall programming kicks off Sept. 11 with Nury Turkel, Commissioner at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. His topic: “Confronting the Unthinkable: Understanding the Uyghur Genocide in China.”

Additional notable speakers on the Ath schedule this fall include:

In addition, CMC faculty will join the Ath throughout the semester for panel discussions,such as “The Role of Citizens in the American Constitution,” co-sponsored by the Salvatori Center's Lofgren Program on American Constitutionalism on Sept. 19, featuring new Government Professor Nicholas Buccola, Salvatori Center Director and Professor George Thomas, and Sue McWilliams Barndt, professor of politics at Pomona.

Davidson holds a long connection to the Ath, where as a student, he worked his way up from a job as a server, and ultimately as an Ath Fellow (meet this year's group). These roles helped him realize that he enjoyed being a “campus connector" who considers the Ath “part of the glue that makes CMC a community.”

It’s the Ath’s role in building community at CMC that is fundamental to the new series, “Around the World at the Ath,” which Davidson is launching this semester as a means “to provide students with a place to explore a range of international cultures, traditions, and cuisines alongside faculty and peers.”

Spearheaded by ASCMC’s Social Life Working Group, Davidson said the series will first explore Brazil (with Professors Juliana Fillies and Norman Valencia on Sept. 13); then celebrate Diwali on Nov. 13, and reflect on American Thanksgiving traditions on Nov. 20.

“Through events like these, I hope to further expand the Ath’s place as a community and intellectual hub. Our goal is to continually challenge students, but also to make them feel at home,” Davidson said.

To celebrate the Athenaeum’s 40th anniversary in its current location, Davidson thought it was appropriate to recognize the occasion as something of a “homecoming” for CMC alumni who return to speak at the Ath. “That’s because the Ath is more than just a community space on campus – it also connects CMC alumni across time,” he said.

This semester, the Ath welcomes back alumni such as Billy Grayson ’00, Executive Director, Center for Sustainability at the Urban Land Institute (on Oct. 9), musician Sheena Hui ’19 (who beginning Oct. 19 will bring a range of visiting musicians to the Ath throughout the academic year); and documentarians Owen Dubeck ’19 (Oct. 12), and the team of Chris Temple ’12 / Zach Ingrasci ’12 (in discussion with CMC Trustee Harry McMahon ’75 P’08 P’09 on Nov. 14 ) will screen their films.

To sign up for all open Athenaeum events, please register online.

Anne Bergman


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