Guest Lectures

Spring 2018

2018 Morehead-Cain Alumni Visiting Distinguished Honors Professor

Are We Alone in the Universe?: A Lecture Series with John Lattanzio

March 21: Life On Earth — Could It Happen Elsewhere?
March 28: How to Make Aliens
April 4: Talking with Aliens

All lectures from 7:00 – 8:00pm
Murphey Hall, Room 116
UNC-Chapel Hill

Free and Open to the Public

John Lattanzio is an astrophysicist who works on understanding stars and how they make the elements that comprise our world. He serves as President of the International Astronomical Union’s Commission on Stellar Evolution and is a professor in the Monash Centre for Astrophysics at Monash University in Australia. Previously, Lattanzio held positions in Canada and France, at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy, and at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Astronomical Society of Australia.

The lecture series is hosted by Honors Carolina in the College of Arts and Sciences in partnership with the Morehead-Cain Scholars Program and the UNC Department of Physics and Astronomy.

2018 Frank Porter Graham Lecture

Healthcare’s Seven Dirty Words
Elizabeth G. Taylor, Executive Director of the National Health Law Program (NHeLP)

Tuesday, February 13 — 7:00pm
Fedex Global Education Center, Nelson Mandela Auditorium
UNC-Chapel Hill

Elizabeth G. Taylor is executive director of the National Health Law Program (NHeLP), a nationally recognized legal nonprofit dedicated to protecting and advancing the health rights of low income and underserved individuals. Elizabeth has spent her career advancing justice both in the courtroom and the board room. She joined NHeLP from the U.S. Department of Justice, where she served for three years as Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General during the first and second terms of the Obama Administration. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia Law School, Yale Divinity School, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Sponsored by Honors Carolina • The Frank Porter Graham lecture series honors the late U.S. Senator and president of the University of North Carolina, who was a champion of freedom, democracy, and the disadvantaged. The lecture is made possible by the gift of Taylor McMillan ’60, who established the Frank Porter Graham Lecture Series.


Spring 2017

2017 Hillard Gold ’39 Lecture

Preparing to be Uncomfortable: A Conversation with Vanessa Wittman

Wednesday, April 19 — 6:00pm
McColl Building, Koury Auditorium
UNC-Chapel Hill

Vanessa Wittman, a top financial executive with strong public and private company experience, most recently served as Chief Financial Officer of Dropbox Inc. She went to Dropbox in early 2015 from Motorola Mobility, a Google company, where she served as Senior Vice President and CFO. Prior to Google, she was CFO and Executive Vice President at Marsh & McLennan Companies, and helped resolve the Adelphia Communications bankruptcy as its EVP and CFO.  Previous roles include corporate development at Microsoft, venture capital at Sterling Payot and investment banking at Morgan Stanley. Ms. Wittman currently serves on the Boards of Sirius XM and Ulta Beauty, acts as a special advisor to Facebook’s Building 8, and is as an independent member of FIFA’s Finance Committee. Ms. Wittman played Varsity Women’s Tennis at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where she graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with B.S. in Business Administration in 1989.  In 1993, she received an MBA from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, where she was a Shermet Scholar. Ms. Wittman will share her thoughts on preparing to be uncomfortable during a discussion with James Leloudis, Professor of History, Associate Dean for Honors Carolina, and Director for the James M. Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Hillard Gold ’39 Lecture was established by alumni James and Jonathan Gold to honor the memory of their father, Hillard Gold, a member of the UNC Class of 1939.

2017 Frank Porter Graham Lecture

Christopher Laurent, VisionFund International

Wednesday, February 1 — 7:00 pm
FedEx Global Education Center, Nelson Mandela Auditorium
UNC-Chapel Hill

Christopher Laurent is the Chief Financial Officer of VisionFund International, the microfinance division of World Vision International, a global humanitarian aid organization. Based in London, he is responsible for a 32-country microfinance network that reaches 1.5 million clients — three-quarters of whom are women — and impacts the lives of 4.4 million children. He earned his Master of Accounting and B.S. in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Frank Porter Graham Lecture honors the late U.S. Senator and president of the University of North Carolina, who was a champion of freedom, democracy, and the disadvantaged. The lecture is made possible by the gift of Taylor McMillan ’60, who established the Frank Porter Graham Lecture Series.

Honors Carolina sponsors several notable guest lectures each year, including the Frank Porter Graham Lecture, the Hillard Gold ’39 Lecture, and the Morehead-Cain Visiting Distinguished Professor Lecture.

Past speakers have included:

  • Frank Bruni, New York Times OpEd columnist and best-selling author
  • Ping Fu, co-founder of the 3D software company Geomagic and a member of President Obama’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Robbie Bach, a former Microsoft executive who led development of the Xbox
  • David Simon, creator of The Wire on HBO
  • Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity
  • Robert Gibbs, former White House Press Secretary

Honors Carolina students have opportunities to meet with speakers for small-group discussions prior to the public lectures.

Check back for information regarding upcoming lectures.