Sharp Series models constructive conversations Established in 2011 in honor of Richard L. Sharp, a nationally recognized entrepreneur, the Sharp Viewpoint Speakers Series presents competing views on topics crucial to our nation and global society.
The University of Richmond’s commitment to civil and constructive discourse has been on display this semester through the 2017–18 Sharp Viewpoint Speakers Series. In front of sellout crowds that include a large number of faculty and staff, President Ronald A. Crutcher is engaging prominent thought leaders with diverse perspectives in conversations about a range of timely topics. “The University believes strongly in programs that introduce our students to new perspectives as a means of better understanding themselves, their fellow citizens, and the knotty and complicated challenges we all face,” Jose Antonio Vargas Crutcher says. “Events such as the Sharp Viewpoint Speakers Series bring together students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends in the community — people of all different ages, backgrounds, and political affiliations — bound by a shared interest in learning.” The Sharp Series opened with a discussion about free speech with Jeffrey Herbst, former president and CEO of the Newseum. Most recently, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and immigration advocate Jose Antonio Vargas participated in a discussion on identity in a changing America. In October, Richmond hosted Virginia gubernatorial candidates Ralph Northam and Ed Gillespie to talk about issues ranging from education to Civil War monuments. Questions for the candidates came from Richmond Scholars, students who have received the University’s most prestigious merit awards.
“It was an amazing opportunity for our Richmond Scholars — who come from all over the world and will have a large voice in decisions that benefit the state of Virginia — to have the opportunity to ask candidates questions,” says Jennifer Cable, professor of music and faculty director of scholars and fellowships. The Sharp Series has been generating conversations throughout the semester, both in and out of the classroom. Journalism professor Tom Mullen says the series is a terrific example of how Richmond engages students, faculty, and staff, as well as the community, in discussions of significant issues. “These events are timely, sometimes provocative, and always enriching,” he says. “I strongly encourage my students to attend as many of these as they can.” The Sharp Series will continue to model constructive dialogue in March with a conversation about immigration with Karl Rove, iconic political strategist and former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush. “America is at its best when its citizens are engaged in candid and civil conversations that promote positive and lasting change,” Crutcher says. “If our graduates, and indeed all of us, are to be successful, no lesson any institution can teach may be more important than this one.” For more information about the series and to register for tickets, visit richmond.edu/sharp.
For faculty and staff at the University of Richmond