Who's coming to speak at assembly this winter?

Guest speakers at Exeter this term will include award-winning writers and trailblazing innovators.

Patrick Garrity
December 3, 2019
Kirstin Valdez Quade ’98, Greg Lukianoff and Charles Blow.

Kirstin Valdez Quade '98 (from left), Greg Lukianoff and Charles Blow are among the speakers coming to address assembly this winter.

Greg Lukianoff doesn't much care for the title of his book, never uses the term “snowflake” and disagrees with those who label students today as lazy and spoiled.

But the First Amendment expert and co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind pulls no punches about today's American education system and the mistakes it is making. He and co-author Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist, offer what they call “three Great Untruths” — that which doesn’t kill you makes you weaker; always trust your feelings; and life is a battle between good people and evil people. Together, teaching these untruths to American youth is setting up a generation to fail, the authors say.

Lukianoff visits Exeter this month, one of the highlights of the assembly lineup this winter that also features a columnist at The New York Times; a famed forensic scientist; the world’s first African American chess grandmaster; and a Japanese American once incarcerated in a U.S. internment camp during World War II.

Lukianoff is the president and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit focused on fighting censorship on American college campuses. Along with trying to get to the bottom of why students today battle higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide than the generation prior, he and Haidt present suggestions for how to improve education in America, from kindergarten through college, to “produce happier, healthier kids who are better able to thrive in an era of rising polarization, intensifying online outrage and declining trust of institutions.”

Ahead of Lukianoff’s assembly on Dec. 10 he will have a public appearance at the Academy Building on the evening of Dec. 9.

Other speakers coming to Exeter this winter:

Jan. 7
Charles Blow, columnist, The New York Times

Blow took an uncommon path to the Times’ op-ed pages, serving as the paper’s graphics director and design lead ahead of landing his role as columnist. His columns, which center around politics, public opinion and social justice, appear Mondays and Thursdays. Read Blow’s columns.

Jan. 10
Maurice Ashley, chess grandmaster

Twenty years ago, Ashley became the first African American to ascend to the title of grandmaster, and he is a champion for the game as much as a champion of it. He is a three-time national championship coach, and his work as an author, commentator, app designer and motivational speaker has promoted chess around the world. Watch a video of Ashley playing.

Jan. 17
Ibram X. Kendi, historian

Kendi is a leading voice of “antiracism,” defined as “the active process of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies, practices and attitudes.” His book How to Be an Antiracist debuted in August at No. 2 on The New York Times Bestseller List. He will serve as the keynote speaker of the Academy’s annual MLK Jr. Day programming.

Feb. 7
Kirstin Valdez Quade ‘98, author

A reviewer in The New York Times called Night at the Fiestas, Quade’s debut collection of short stories, “haunting and beautiful” replete with “legitimate masterpieces.” Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories. She teaches creative writing at Princeton.

Feb. 21
Dr. Henry Lee, forensic scientist

Lee’s 57-year career has included work on high-profile investigations of O.J. Simpson, Casey Anthony and Scott Peterson as well as the JonBenet Ramsey homicide. His career in criminal justice began in Taiwan, from which he emigrated to the United States in 1965. Lee has written or co-authored more than 40 books on forensic science, crime-scene investigation and crime-scene reconstruction. Learn more about Lee.

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