Auburn University’s Critical Conversations Series to continue with three featured speakers

Published: January 13, 2020
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Auburn University is continuing its commitment to encouraging conversations around intellectual diversity, inclusion and free speech in higher education with three upcoming speakers as part of the Critical Conversations Speaker Series.

“We are thrilled to continue this series, which explores how our shared values of free speech and civil discourse are being both critically discussed and thoughtfully applied at Auburn University,” said Taffye Benson Clayton, associate provost and vice president for Inclusion and Diversity.

The first of three events will take place at 7 p.m. January 21 at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center, featuring Eddie Glaude Jr., the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. As a graduate of Morehouse College, he was inspired by the courage and devotion of Martin Luther King Jr., Morehouse’s most famous graduate. Following in that tradition, Glaude seeks “to prod and to provoke, to insist and to incite, to encourage and to embolden fellow citizens to rise to the profound challenges of our day.” He is the author of several books—the latest being “In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America.”

The series’ second speaker of the new year will be Porter Braswell, the CEO and co-founder of Jopwell, a technology platform that helps black, Latinx and Native American students and professionals unlock opportunities for career advancement. His talk will take place at 5 p.m. March 3 in the Mell Classroom Building, room 2550.

Under Porter’s leadership, Jopwell has formed partnerships with more than 100 of America’s leading companies and has facilitated tens of thousands of connections between the Jopwell community members and its clients. In 2017 alone, the company was recognized among Entrepreneur Magazine's “100 Most Brilliant Ideas,” Fast Company's “World's Most Innovative Companies,” and as Business Insider's “One of The Hottest NYC Companies to Watch.” Porter's professional awards and recognitions include LinkedIn's 2015 “Next Wave, Top Professionals Under 35,” Inc. Magazine's 2016 “30 Under 30,” Fast Company's 2017 “100 Most Creative People In Business,” Crain's 2018 “40 Under 40,” Vanity Fair's 2018 "Future Innovators Index" and most recently Adweek's 2018 "Young Influentials."

As an African American chief executive officer, Porter regularly speaks about the importance of diversity in the workforce and has been featured in numerous publications and articles discussing the topic. Additionally, Porter is a LinkedIn influencer where he frequently shares his thoughts and opinions on the state of diversity in the workforce with his more than 110,000 followers. In early 2019, Porter released his book titled "Let Them See You - The Guide for Leveraging Your Diversity at Work," published by Penguin Random House, which addresses both the complexity of and necessity for diversity in corporate America.

Porter started his career at Goldman Sachs on the Foreign Exchange sales desk. Prior to Goldman Sachs, Porter graduated from Yale University in 2011, where he was a four-year member of the men's varsity basketball team.

Wrapping up the series, Lynn Pasquerella—president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities—will speak at 5 p.m. April 7 in the Mell Classroom Building, room 2550. Pasquerella has served in her role since July 2016.  A philosopher whose career has combined teaching and scholarship with local and global engagement, Pasquerella has been committed to ensuring all students have access to excellence in liberal education, regardless of their socioeconomic background.

Pasquerella is a graduate of Quinebaug Valley Community College, Mount Holyoke College and Brown University. She joined the faculty of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Rhode Island in 1985, rising rapidly through the ranks to the positions of vice provost for research, vice provost for academic affairs and dean of the graduate school. In 2008, she was named provost of the University of Hartford. In 2010, she was appointed the 18th president of Mount Holyoke College. Pasquerella’s presidency of Mount Holyoke was marked by a robust strategic planning process; outreach to local, regional and international constituencies; and a commitment to a vibrant campus community.

Pasquerella has written extensively on medical ethics, metaphysics, public policy and the philosophy of law. She is president of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, a member of the boards of the Lingnan Foundation and the National Humanities Alliance and sits on the advisory board of the Newman’s Own Foundation. In addition, Pasquerella is host of Northeast Public Radio's The Academic Minute. She has received honorary doctorates from Elizabethtown College, Bishop’s University, the University of Hartford, the University of South Florida and the University of Rhode Island.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.