Actress, playwright, and professor Anna Deavere Smith, and Columbia University Professor of American Studies and Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities Andrew Delbanco will be the featured speakers during a two-day inauguration celebration for President Lee Pelton. Other scheduled events include a faculty symposium, a ProArts Consortium presidents symposium, and a student and faculty showcase. The celebration culminates in an installation ceremony on September 14, 2012 at 11:30 am, which will officially establish Pelton as the 12th president of Emerson College.
Smith will speak at an inauguration event on September 13, 2012 at the Paramount Mainstage. She is a former MacArthur fellow, a two-time Tony Award nominee, and a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize for her play Fires in the Mirror. Her most recent one-person show, Let Me Down Easy, toured the United States and was broadcast on Great Performances. Smith has also starred in television series and films such as Nurse Jackie, The West Wing, The American President, and Philadelphia, and is a university professor at New York University. In addition to teaching, writing, and performing, she is the founding director of Anna Deavere Smith Works, a nonprofit organization that supports artists whose work addresses social justice issues.
Delbanco, winner of the 2006 Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates, will speak at the installation ceremony on September 14, 2012 at the Cutler Majestic Theatre. He is the author of Melville: His World and Work (2005), The Death of Satan (1995), Required Reading: Why Our American Classics Matter Now (1997), The Real American Dream (1999), and The Puritan Ordeal (1989). His most recent book, College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be, chronicles the history of higher education in the United States.
Delbanco also writes on topics ranging from American literary and religious history to contemporary issues in higher education for publications such as The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, Raritan, and other journals. He is a National Humanities Medal recipient and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2001, he was named “America's Best Social Critic” by Time magazine.