The Vernon L. Pack ’50 Distinguished Lecture and Scholar-in-Residence Program addresses important current issues with guest lecturers and scholars.

Vernon L. Pack ’50 Distinguished Lecture and Scholar-in-Residence Program

The Vernon L. Pack ’50 Distinguished Lecture and Scholar-in-Residence program was established in 2002 through a generous gift from alumnus Vernon L. Pack, a 1950 graduate of the University. A distinguished lecturer visits campus to address important current issues that will allow the ǿմý community to reflect on ethical, spiritual and social issues. In alternate years, an esteemed scholar is invited to campus to reside for up to one academic year in order to provide an educational enrichment experience for ǿմý students.

2024 Vernon L. Pack ’50 Lecture: Brian D. Smedley

The Vernon L. Pack ’50 Distinguished Lecture Series at ǿմý University was proud to bring to campus Dr. Brian D. Smedley, a national health equity advocate and scholar, for a lecture on Thursday, April 4, in the Riley Auditorium at the Battelle Fine Arts Center. Dr. Smedley’s lecture was entitled “Place, Race, and Health: Addressing the Root Causes of Health Inequities.”

Brian D. Smedley is an equity scholar and senior fellow at the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, where he conducts research and policy analysis to address structural and institutional forms of racism that impact the health and well-being of people of color. Among the programs he leads at the Urban Institute is “Unequal Treatment at 20,” an effort to accelerate progress toward health care equity by identifying key policy levers and advancing a new research agenda focused on dismantling all forms of racism in health care training and clinical settings. Formerly, Smedley was chief of psychology in the public interest at the American Psychological Association (APA), where he led APA’s efforts to apply the science and practice of psychology to the fundamental problems of human welfare and social justice. In this role, he was deeply involved in APA’s historic apology for psychology’s contributions to scientific racism and plans to correct this history and advance an anti-racist agenda in the discipline.

A national thought leader in health equity, Smedley started in Washington, D.C., in 1993 as an APA congressional science fellow, and later served at APA as director of public interest policy. He was co-founder and executive director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity, a project that connects research, policy analysis, and communications with on-the-ground activism to advance health equity.

Brian D SmedleyBrian D. Smedley

Previous Lectures

  • 2002 – Doris Kerns Goodwin, acclaimed historian and Pulitzer Prize in history winner for No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II.
  • 2004 – Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International and host of CNN’s international affairs program Fareed Zakaria GPS.
  • 2005 – Alan Lightman, noted physicist and critically acclaimed author of Einstein’s Dreams.
  • 2008 – Ed Begley Jr., actor and environmentalist.
  • 2010 – Dee Dee Myers, White House press secretary under President Clinton from 1993-1994, political analyst and commentator, and author of Why Women Should Rule the World. Myers is an expert on the issues facing women in Washington and in leadership positions of all kinds.
  • 2012 – Steven Pinker, Harvard University professor, best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize finalist. He has been listed on TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in The World” and Foreign Policy magazine’s list of “The World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals.”
  • 2014 – Sir Salman Rushdie, one of the most celebrated authors of our time. He penned a handful of classic novels, influenced a generation of writers, and received a Queen’s Knighthood for “services to literature.” He stands as both a pop culture icon and one of the most thought-provoking proponents for free speech today. His novels include Midnight’s Children, The Satanic Verses, The Moor’s Last Sigh, The Ground Beneath Her Feet and The Enchantress of Florence.
  • 2016 – Amy Goodman, award-winning investigative journalist, author, and syndicated columnist. She is the host of Democracy Now!, airing on more than 1400 public television and radio stations worldwide.
  • 2018 – Piper Kerman, bestselling author of “Orange is the New Black” and criminal justice reform activist.
  • 2020: Postposed due to Covid-19.
  • 2021: Nikole Hannah-Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of the 1619 Project and a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine, and Jonathan Kozol, author of the New York Times Bestseller, The Shame of the Nation, educator, and activist.
  • 2023: Heather McGhee, educator, serving currently as a visiting lecturer in urban studies at the City University of New York’s School of Labor and Urban Studies.

Distinguished Scholars-in-Residence

  • 2003 – Valentine Moghadam, a professor born in Iran, who conducts research regarding development, social change, and gender in the Middle East, North Africa, and Afghanistan.
  • 2005 – Lois Raimondo, an internationally-known photojournalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist nominee for her work on the New York City Mitchell Lama housing project for New York Newsday.
  • 2007 – Wande Abimbola, President of the International Congress of Orisa Tradition and Culture, and world-renowned expert on Ifa, a West African sacred divinatory and literary system.
  • 2009 – Richard Alley, an acclaimed geologist who conducts research on environmental issues including abrupt climate changes, glaciers, ice sheet collapse and sea level change.
  • 2011 – Harrell Fletcher, renowned visual and conceptual artist and recipient of the 2005 Alpert Award in Visual Arts.
  • 2013 – Robert Fefferman, acclaimed mathematician in the field of harmonic analysis and its applications to elliptic partial differential equations and its relationship to probability theory.
  • 2015 – Bonny Norton, Professor and Distinguished University Scholar in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia, Her highly cited book, Identity and Language Learning (2000/2013) has introduced novel conceptions of identity to the field of language education.
  • 2017 – Bryonn Bain, prison reform activist, actor, author, hip hop theater innovator and spoken word poetry champion.
  • 2019 – Winona LaDuke, Native American activist, environmentalist, and former Green Party vice presidential candidate.
  • 2022 – Libby Larsen, one of America’s most performed living composers.
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