Terry Crews, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, George Takei to speak at Chancellor’s Lecture Series among other thought leaders and cultural influencers

Led by Interim Chancellor Susan R. Wente, the fall lineup for the Chancellor’s Lecture Series represents Vanderbilt’s efforts to build connections across its community


Mattigan Kelly

Langford Auditorium, where the Chancellor’s Lecture Series events are usually held.

Caitlin David, Campus Deputy Editor

Vanderbilt students will have the chance to hear notable speakers through this fall’s Chancellor’s Lecture Series lineup, which includes TIME 2017 Person of the Year Terry Crews, Pulitzer Prize winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin and MacArthur Fellowship recipient Chamamanda Ngozi Adichie. The collection of speakers includes five leaders in global issues, science, culture and identity, following with this year’s theme of “Culture of Respect; Culture of Caring.” 

Interim Chancellor Susan R. Wente will host the lectures with the purpose of engaging Vanderbilt in inclusive conversations across communities and promoting open-minded dialogue. The Chancellor’s Lecture Series was started by former Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos. Other notable Vanderbilt faculty will support Wente during various lectures, including political science professor Jon Meacham.

Former athlete and current actor and activist Terry Crews will come to campus Sept. 9 to discuss his advocacy work. Recognized as one of TIME’s Silence Breakers in 2017 as an individual who has spoken up about sexual assault and harassment, Crews speaks about issues such as toxic masculinity and stresses the importance of men advocating for women’s rights in his lecture “Reframing Masculinity & Gender Equality.” The lecture featuring Crews will function as a Q&A session and will be moderated by William H. Robinson, Interim Vice Provost of Strategic Initiatives.

Famous for his role as Hikaru Sulu in the 1960’s classic series Star Trek, George Takei will speak to Vanderbilt students Oct. 2 about his story of American identity. Takei is known for his active role in state and local politics in California, and has won several awards for this work in human rights and Japan US relations. His lecture, “Takei’s Take: Reflections on Defying the Status Quo in America,” will focus on his family’s forced internment as Japanese Americans during World War II and his fight for marriage equality in the United States.

Prominent American biographer, historian and political commentator Doris Kearns Goodwin will be on campus on Oct. 31 for a discussion moderated by Jon Meacham. Goodwin has written several biographies of American presidents, including Franklin D. Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln and received a Pulitzer Prize in history for her work.

In the fourth lecture, award-winning Nigerian novelist and recipient of the MacArthur “Genius Grant” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will be featured in the series Nov. 21. Adichie is the author of “Americanahand “We Should All Be Feminists,among several other novels and a collection of short stories.

The last lecture in the series will take place on Dec. 3 and include a panel discussion featuring Vanderbilt professor Amanda Little, Harvard professor Steven Pinker and journalist Carl Zimmer. Little, Vanderbilt Writer-in-Residence, teaches investigative journalism on campus and recently published “The Fate of Food: What We’ll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter world,which was featured in the Hustler’s fall reading guide this year. Pinker is a cognitive psychology and an expert on psycholinguistics. He has also published multiple books on his studies of the prevalence of human violence in societies over time. Zimmer is a journalist at the New York Times who specializes in evolution, parasites and heredity. He is the only science writer to have a species of tapeworm named after him.

Moderated by Meacham, this discussion will focus on global issues in upcoming decades. All notable science writers, the panelists will speak about the necessity of cross-cultural international collaboration to solve these problems.

All lectures in the series will be held at Langford Auditorium with the exception of Goodwin’s, which will be held at Ingram Hall. Admission is free for all lectures, and seating is available on a first-come basis.