Provost's Lecture Series

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How Class Works Conference 
June 9: Sam Pizzigati

sam pizzigatiPlutocrats: Understanding the 0.1%
A veteran labor journalist, Sam Pizzigati has written widely on economic inequality, in articles, books, and online, for both popular and scholarly readers. Currently an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank in Washington, DC, Pizzigati has been editing Too Much ever since the publication's 1995 debut. His op-eds and articles on income and wealth maldistribution have appeared in a host of major American dailies, magazines, and journals. Pizzigati has edited publications for four different national American unions and directed, for twenty years, the publishing operations of America's largest union, the 3.2 million-member National Education Association. The 1992 anthology he co-edited, The New Labor Press (Cornell University ILR Press), remains the primary reference for trade union journalists.

Pizzigati’s latest book, The Rich Don’t Always Win: The forgotten triumph over plutocracy that created the classic American middle class1900-1970 (Seven Stories Press) appeared in 2012. In 2008, Pizzigati played a lead role on the team that generated The Nation magazine's special issue on extreme inequality. That issue went on to win the 2009 Sidney Hillman Prize for magazine journalism.

A Maryland resident, Pizzigati served for eight years on the founding board of directors of Progressive Maryland, the state’s leading alliance of labor, community, civil rights, and religious organizations. He spent a similar stint on the board of the Boston-based United for a Fair Economy, a national economic justice education and organizing effort.

Co-sponsor: The Center for Study of Working Class Life

Abstract: The idea is to give people interested in advancing the life circumstances of working people as clear an idea who are the 0.1%, the plutocrats, how they are organized, how they understand and pursue their interests–within the US and as a leading element of a newly emerging global ruling class–and what this all mean for workers.

Thursday, June 9, 7:00 pm, Student Activities Center, Ballroom B

 Previous Lectures

Darwin Day 2016
February 12: David Jablonski 

jablonskiMass Extinctions and Evolution: What We’ve Learned Since Darwin
David Jablonski is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor in the Department of the Geophysical Sciences and the Committee on Evolutionary Biology (a multi-institutional PhD program) at the University of Chicago. He combines data on living and fossil marine organisms to ask large-scale evolutionary questions about origins, extinctions, and geographic distributions. He grew up in New York City a few blocks from the American Museum of Natural History; he knew he wanted to be a paleontologist by the age of five. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000 and the National Academy of Sciences in 2010. He has published more than 140 scientific papers and book chapters on topics ranging from mass extinctions to the origin and maintenance of the diversity gradient from poles to tropics and the role of multilevel processes in evolution. Co-sponsors: Department of Ecology and Evolution, Department of Anatomical Sciences, Department of Geosciences

Co-sponsor: Department of Ecology and Evolution 

Abstract: The fossil record is punctuated by extinction events at all scales, from the loss of one or two fish species with the drying of a lake, to the wholesale disappearance of dinosaurs (birds aside) 65 million years ago. The handful of events that are global in scale and bring down a wide spectrum of species are termed mass extinctions, which account for less than 10% of all the extinction over life’s long history, but have been pivotal in shaping the world’s biota. Because most research has centered on the causes of mass extinctions, we are just beginning to understand their evolutionary roles. Growing evidence points to a change in the rules of survival during mass extinctions, so that evolution is re-channeled during these rare but intense episodes. The evolutionary bursts that follow the extinctions may be just as important as the extinctions themselves, as new or previously obscure lineages take advantage of the opportunities opened up by the demise of dominant groups. However, a closer look at recovery intervals shows that survival alone does not guarantee evolutionary success: not all survivors are winners. The implications of this new understanding of extinction for present-day biodiversity are complex but wide-ranging.

Friday, February 12, 7:30 pm, Earth and Space Sciences 001


21st Annual Leadership Symposium: Challenges in Higher Education
March 10: Shaun R. Harper

harperBest Practices in Creating an Inclusive Campus Environment
Shaun R. Harper, Founder and Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education at the University of Pennsylvania, is the author of the forthcoming book Race Matters in College (John Hopkins University Press) and president-elect of the Association for the Study of Higher Education. Professor Harper is a tenured faculty member in the Graduate School of Education, Africana Studies, and Gender Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He maintains an active research agenda that examines race and gender in educational and social contexts, Black male college access and achievement, the effects of education policies and campus environments on student outcomes, and college student engagement.

Joining Dr. Harper for the 21st Annual Leadership Symposium will be Cheryl D. Hamilton, Assistant Provost and Director of EOP/AIM, and Dr. Timothy Ecklund, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students. Ms. Hamilton and Dr. Ecklund will each repond to Dr. Harper's presentation, after which the presenters will address questions from the symposium audience.

Co-sponsors: Office of the Vice President for Student AffairsSchool of Social Welfare

Abstract: Achieving diversity in higher education is a worthy, and as yet unrealized goal that would contribute significantly to creating greater equity in our society. Diversity alone, however, does not ensure student success or sufficient progress toward fully functioning citizenship. Improved outcomes in that regard require that campus environments are welcoming, inclusive, and encouraging of engagement of all members of the campus community. To that end, enhancing the effectiveness of campuses as inclusive environments is a priority consistent with and representative of public universities' mission. Dr. Harper will help to inform our efforts to create an environment that is inclusive and engaging for our students, in particular in the context of our overall commitment to improving four-year graduation rates.

Thursday, March 10, 9:00 am, Charles B. Wang Center Theater

April 14: Vivienne Ming

vivienne mingThe Tax on Being Different
Named one of 10 Women to Watch in Tech in 2013 by Inc. Magazine, Vivienne Ming is a theoretical neuroscientist, technologist and entrepreneur. She co-­founded Socos, where machine learning and cognitive neuroscience combine to maximize students' life outcomes.  She is a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley's Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience, where she pursues her research in neuroprosthetics. In her free time, Dr. Ming has developed a predictive model of diabetes to better manage the glucose levels of her diabetic son and systems to predict manic episodes in bipolar sufferers. She sits on the boards of StartOut, The Palm Center, Emozia, and the Bay Area Rainbow Daycamp, and is an advisor to Credit Suisse, Cornerstone Capital, and Bayes Impact. Dr. Ming also speaks frequently on issues of LGBT inclusion and gender in technology. 

Lecture will be followed by a Fireside Chat hosted by Dr. Charles Robbins.

Co-sponsors: Teaching, Learning & Technology,The Faculty Center, and the Division of Information Technology

Abstract: Through Dr. Ming’s research in developing algorithmic modeling to assist Silicon Valley tech firms recruit a more diverse workforce, she identified troubling statistics about diversity hires and the "tax" that women and under-represented minorities pay to be employed at some of the country’s top firms. Through her research in neuroscience, cognition and her own life story, Dr. Ming is an expert on bias and discrimination, having undergone a gender transition in her mid-30's, she experienced firsthand what it is to interact with the world as both a male and female scientist and entrepreneur. Using a wide-range of data, she has calculated the tax, or price, that minorities pay to see equal opportunities and will reveal its impact on our organizations and economies. Dr. Ming will discuss the research that support the concept of a tax that is placed on those least able to pay it, defying any concept of fairness or economic inventive. According to Ming, organizations can adjust to improve this inevitable bias and will demonstrate that while discrimination is an inescapable part of the human experience, it can be overcome. 

Thursday, April 14, 3:00 pm, Earth & Space Science (ESS) Room 131

April 18: Richard Tapia

richard tapia

Building a Culture of Diversity in Higher Education: Obstacles and Successes
Richard Tapia, the 2010 awardee of the National Medal of Science, is a mathematician in Rice University's Computational and Applied Mathematics Department. He holds the rank of University Professor, the university's highest academic title awarded to only six individuals in the university's history. Among his many honors, Richard Tapia was an awardee of the 2014 Vannevar Bush award, elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the first Hispanic to receive this honor, and honorary doctorates from Carnegie Mellon University, Colorado School of Mines, University of Nevada, and Claremont Graduate University. Two professional conferences have been named in his honor: the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference and the Blackwell-Tapia Mathematics Conference. Tapia served on the National Science Board from 1996-2002. Because of his leadership, Rice University is recognized as a national leader in the preparation of women and underrepresented minority doctoral degree recipients in science, engineering, and mathematics.

Co-sponsors: Institute for Advanced Computational Science, Center for Inclusive Education

Abstract: Extreme growth in the nation’s Hispanic population is forcing educational challenges at a crisis level for the country. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that this fastest growing segment of the nation’s population continues to be the least educated. The speaker warns that the rate at which the minority population is growing outpaces the rate at which we are improving our effectiveness in educating this segment of the population. The speaker's remarks will focus on the obstacles that the nation’s  universities must overcome in order to improve  representation at the graduate, and faculty levels in science, engineering, and mathematics. He will discuss the role that mathematicians play in contributing to the representation failures. The speaker also will discuss his successful Rice program for improving graduate student representation and the challenges that he has faced throughout his journey from being born in Los Angeles to parents who immigrated from Mexico to his trip to the White House to receive the 2011 National Medal of Science from President Obama. The National Medal of Science is the highest award given by the United States government and Richard Tapia is the first Latino to win this prestigious award.

Monday, April 18, 4:00 pm, Wang Center Theater

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