Elon University announces Speaker Series lineup for 2021-22 academic year

Among those visiting Elon will be soccer star Carli Lloyd, actor BD Wong, astronaut and engineer Leland Melvin, and Elon President Emeritus Leo M. Lambert and Assistant Provost Peter Felten.

Elon University will host an impressive slate of speakers from the sports, entertainment, scientific and academic worlds during the 2021-22 academic year. The theme for this year’s speaker series is “The Power of Relationships,” a hallmark of the Elon community and an important principle in many of the goals of the Boldly Elon strategic plan. The series is presented in partnership with WUNC North Carolina Public Radio.

Featured in this year’s Elon University Speaker Series are soccer star Carli Lloyd, actor BD Wong, astronaut and engineer Leland Melvin, and Elon President Emeritus Leo M. Lambert and Assistant Provost Peter Felten. The series, which centers around the power of relationships, will also include addresses by noted Boston College Professor of Counseling Psychology Belle Liang and Eric Liu, co-founder and CEO of Citizen University.

The university’s full Cultural Calendar, which will be released later this summer, includes additional speakers as well as a wide range of musical, theatrical, artistic and other intellectually engaging events.

Elon University Speaker Series

Sept. 24 — 2021 Fall Convocation: Carli Lloyd and Danny Madaroski

Schar Center, 3:30 p.m.

A two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and World Cup Champion, soccer legend Carli Lloyd will deliver Elon’s Fall Convocation address in Schar Center. She will be joined by her trainer, Danny Madaroski, who is also a volunteer women’s soccer coach at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

Carli Lloyd

The current captain of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, Lloyd has represented the country in the past four Women’s World Cup tournaments and scored the winning goal in the finals of both the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the 2012 Olympic Games in London. She is a two-time recipient and one of only four Americans to be awarded the FIFA World Player of the Year, the most prestigious and highest award in soccer.

Raised in Delran, New Jersey, Lloyd attended Rutgers University and set school records as the all-time leader in points, goals and shots for the Scarlet Knights. She has since been named to the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni and has been inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

A veteran of four Women’s World Cup tournaments, Lloyd led the U.S. team in 2015 to its first World Cup Championship since 1999. She scored a historic hat trick during the final match that year against Japan, with her third and final goal of the game widely described as one of the greatest soccer goals of all time. Four years later, the team claimed its record fourth World Cup title, making Lloyd a two-time champion and the first player to score in six straight Women’s World Cup games.

In 2016 Lloyd published “When Nobody Was Watching: My Hard-Fought Journey to the Top of the Soccer World,” a best-selling memoir about her rise in the sport.

Admission: $15 or Elon ID. For ticket information, call (336) 278-5610.

Oct. 21 — Leo M. Lambert and Peter Felten

Location to be determined, 7:30 p.m.

Elon University President Emeritus Leo M. Lambert and Peter Felten, associate provost and executive director of the Center for Engaged Learning at Elon, are the authors of “Relationship-Rich Education: How Human Connections Drive Success in College.”

Elon President Emeritus Leo M. Lambert and Peter Felten, assistant provost for teaching and learning, executive director of the Center for Engaged Learning, and Professor of History

Published by Johns Hopkins University Press, the 2020 work draws from a nationwide survey of college graduates and hundreds of in-person interviews with students and faculty to look at how human connections contribute to academic success. The book makes a new and compelling case for the importance of personal connections on college and university campuses while providing guidance on how to foster those relationships.

Central to the book are the nearly 400 interviews with students, faculty and staff at 29 higher education institutions across the country with distinctly different profiles. The interviews were supplemented with research data collected by the Elon University Poll through a survey of 1,600 college and university graduates.

Lambert and Felten also co-authored the 2016 book, “Undergraduate Experience: Focusing Institutions on What Matters Most.”

Admission: $15 or Elon ID. For ticket information, call (336) 278-5610.

Jan. 11 — Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Address: BD Wong

McCrary Theatre, Center for the Arts, 6 p.m.

Award-winning actor BD Wong will deliver the 2022 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Address as part of Elon’s annual events held to honor the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.

BD Wong

Appearing on screens big and small during the past 20 years, Wong has shown why he is one of the country’s most versatile performers, appearing in hits including “Law & Order: SVU,” “Oz,” “Mr. Robot,” “Gotham,” “Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic World.”

His Broadway debut in “M. Butterfly” earned him a Tony Award, an Outer Critic’s Circle Award, a Theatre World Award, a Clarence Derwent Award and a Drama Desk Award as he became the only actor to ever win all five major New York theater awards for a single role.

Wong has appeared in more than 20 films, including notable roles in both “Father of the Bride” movies, “Seven Years in Tibet,” Disney’s “Mulan” and the HBO adaptation of “The Normal Heart.” He has starred in the widely celebrated revival of the musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and Stephen Sondheim’s “Pacific Overtures.”

Wong has spoken out about his experiences with rejection, typecasting and racism in the entertainment industry and has been praised for addressing issues including racial self-image, Asian-American parental pressure and the “model-minority myth.” In his memoir, “Following Foo: The Electronic Adventures of the Chestnut Man,” Wong recounted the highs and lows that he and his former partner endured on the road to parenthood.

Admission: $15 or Elon ID. For ticket information, call (336) 278-5610.

March 31 — Baird Lecture: Leland Melvin

Alumni Gymnasium, Koury Center, 7 p.m.

Leland Melvin is an engineer, educator, former NASA astronaut and NFL wide receiver. He served on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis as a mission specialist on missions STS-122 (2008) and STS-129 (2009), helping to construct the International Space Station.

Drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1986 to play professional football, a hamstring injury thwarted his NFL career. Three years after being drafted, Melvin, who majored in chemistry in college, joined the NASA Langley Research Center. Less than a decade later, Melvin was selected as an astronaut. Upon hanging up his space boots, he led NASA Education and co-chaired the White House’s Federal Coordination in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education Task Force, developing the nation’s 5-year STEM education plan.

After 24 years with NASA as a researcher, astronaut and Senior Executive Service leader, he now shares his life story as an athlete, astronaut, scientist, engineer, photographer and musician to help inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue STEM careers.

In May 2017, Melvin released his memoir, “Chasing Space: An Astronaut’s Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances.” In “Chasing Space,” Leland shares his personal journey from the gridiron to the stars, and examine the intersecting roles of community, perseverance, and grace that align to create the opportunities for success.

Admission: $15 or Elon ID. For ticket information, call (336) 278-5610.

Also in the 2021-22 Speaker Series

Feb. 8 — Eric Liu

Location and time to be announced later

Eric Liu is co-founder and CEO of Citizen University, a nonprofit national platform founded in 2005 to foster citizenship through activation, communication and education. He launched and now directs the Aspen Institute’s Citizenship & American Identity Program, an effort to advance conversation about the nature of American national identity.

The title of his address at Elon is “Become America: How to Revive Our Belief in Democracy.”

Eric Liu

A graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, Liu is an advocate of engaged  citizenship. His 2014 TED talk on civic power titled “Why ordinary people need to understand power,” has been viewed more than 2 million times. Recently, Liu has been elected to membership in the American Academy of the Arts and was selected to be a 2020 Ashoka Fellow by Ashoka, one of the world’s largest networks of social entrepreneurs.

Previously a White House speechwriter and deputy domestic policy adviser for President Bill Clinton, Liu is the author of several books including “The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker,” “The Gardens of Democracy” (co-authored with Nick Hanauer), “You’re More Powerful Than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen,” and his most recent book, “Become America: Civic Sermons on Love, Responsibility and Democracy.”

April 5 — Belle Liang

Whitley Auditorium, 7:30 p.m.

Belle Liang

A professor of counseling psychology in the Lynch School of Education and Human Development at Boston College, Belle Liang’s research explores positive youth development including mentoring and relational health in adolescence and young adulthood.

She is the principal investigator in the Purpose Lab, and is currently developing True North, a curriculum and web-based application for creating purpose profiles to be used in schools and universities.

The lab also explores topics such as mentorship, gender, social oppression and privilege, and whole-person education.

Admission: $15 or Elon ID. For ticket information, call (336) 278-5610.

Admission: $15 or Elon ID. For ticket information, call (336) 278-5610.

More Speakers on the 2021-22 Cultural Calendar

Sept. 21 — Elon Common Reading Keynote Address: Jason Reynolds

Virtual event, 7:30 p.m.

Jason Reynolds is a New York Times bestselling author of many young adult books, including the Elon University Common Reading selection for 2021-22, “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You,” co-written with Ibram X. Kendi. “Stamped” illuminates how deeply embedded racism is in the fabric of the United States’ history, systems and structures.

This keynote address will be available for viewing on Elon’s streaming platform at www.elon.edu/live.

Sept. 28 — Liberal Arts Forum Lecture: Brittany Kaiser

Whitley Auditorium, 7:30 p.m.

Brittany Kaiser is the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower whose encounters are detailed in the Netflix documentary “The Great Hack,” which was co-written and edited by Elon alumna Erin Barnett ’09. Kaiser’s experiences deepened her belief that people need and deserve greater rights to both the use and proceeds of their own data.

Kaiser has been a board member of more than 10 technology companies to help develop solutions that promote transparency, consent-based data sharing, data sovereignty and cybersecurity. Her #OwnYourData campaign asks corporations such as Facebook to change their terms and conditions to provide transparency, opt-in and property/monetization rights for the data produced on their platforms.