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University Development and Alumni Engagement

Distinguished Voices Lecture Series

UNF is proud to partner with the World Affairs Council of Jacksonville to bring distinguished speakers to our campus. 
If you have any questions about the lecture series, please contact UNF Events.
For information about other campus events, please search in the online calendar of events.

2024-2025 Lecture Series Schedule

Jane Harman Headshot

Mon. Sep. 30, 2024

The Honorable Jane Harman:
"Confronting Complex National Security"

Jane Harman served nine terms in Congress as the U.S. representative for California's 36th congressional district and was ranking member of the Intelligence Committee after 9/11. She left the House in 2011 to become the first woman president and CEO of the Wilson Center, transitioning to President Emerita in 2021.

Currently she chairs the Commission on the National Defense Strategy and co-chairs the board of Freedom House. She is also a Trustee of the Aspen Institute, the Trilateral Commission, a Presidential Scholar at USC and serves on the advisory boards of the Department of Homeland Security, and NASA. Harman’s book, “Insanity Defense: Why Our Failure to Confront Hard National Security Problems Makes Us Less Safe,” was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2021.

Tickets open to public in August

David Rennie Headshot

Mon. Oct. 7, 2024

David Rennie:
"China and Its Place in the World"

David Rennie is Beijing bureau chief and "Chaguan" columnist of The Economist. He is co-host of the Drum Tower podcast on China.

He joined The Economist in 2007. From 2007-10 he was the EU correspondent and “Charlemagne” columnist, based in Brussels. From 2010-12 he was British political editor and “Bagehot” columnist, in London. In the summer of 2012, he moved to Washington DC. He was “Lexington” columnist 2012-17, and Washington bureau chief 2013-18. In May 2018 he moved to China as Beijing bureau chief, launching “Chaguan” in September of that year.

Previously, he was on the foreign staff of the Daily Telegraph, with postings in Sydney, Beijing, Washington DC and Brussels.

He won the 2010 UACES/Thomson Reuters “Reporting Europe” award. The Asia Society awarded the 2023 Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia to David Rennie and Sue-Lin Wong for their coverage of China. David Rennie is a contributing panelist on “1A”, NPR’s daily news talk programme, based at WAMU in Washington DC.

Tickets open to public in September

General Petraeus Headshot

Mon. Nov. 4, 2024

General David H. Petraeus. USA (Ret.):
"Future of Warfare"

One of the most effective military leaders in recent U.S. history, General David H. Petraeus is a highly decorated four-star general, whose distinguished military career spanned over 37 years and culminated in six straight commands (five of which were in combat).

Widely credited for changing the course of two wars—by dramatically reducing the violence in Iraq when he led the so-called "Surge" and by halting the Taliban's momentum in Afghanistan when he led the operation there—Petraeus was also instrumental in reshaping American military doctrine and then in implementing it when he led the conduct of comprehensive civil-military counterinsurgency campaigns. Serving in multiple campaigns—including nearly seven years deployed following 9-11—Petraeus has been described as one of the "great battle captains of American history." His command during many years in combat has resulted in comparisons to Ulysses S. Grant, John J. Pershing, George C. Marshall and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Following his military service, Petraeus led the CIA, where he oversaw significant achievements in America's global counterterrorism campaign, pursued a substantial initiative to increase worldwide intelligence coverage, guided the development of a strategic plan for the agency and oversaw the establishment of a new Economic Security Center. Petraeus has received numerous prestigious U.S. military, State Department, NATO and United Nations awards, including four Defense Distinguished Service Medals, three Army Distinguished Service Medals, the Secretary of State's Distinguished Service Award, the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, the NATO Meritorious Service Medal and the Combat Action Badge. Additionally, he has been decorated by 14 foreign countries. Petraeus is a Partner at KKR (a global private equity firm), and currently serves as chairman of the KKR Global Institute, the Kissinger Fellow at Yale University's Jackson School of Global Affairs, and the co-author, with British historian, of Conflict: The Evolution of Warfare from 1945 to Ukraine, a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.

Tickets open to public in October

David Sanger Headshot

Wed. Dec. 4, 2024

David Sanger:
"The New Cold Wars"

When readers of the New York Times look to understand the swirling dynamics of wars, diplomacy, cyber conflict and geopolitics, they look for the byline of one of the paper’s most senior correspondents: David E. Sanger, the three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and White House and National Security Correspondent. Over a 40-year career at the Times, Sanger has become known for the depth of his sources in the world of national security, his painstaking reporting and research, and his in-depth investigations into the complex events of our time.
‍And his reach goes far beyond the Times. He is a CNN contributor on national security and politics. He is the bestselling author of four books — The Inheritance, Confront and Conceal, The Perfect Weapon, and, most recently, New Cold Wars: China’s Rise, Russia’s Invasion, and America’s Struggle to Defend the West, which debuted on the New York Times bestseller list. Sanger also teaches national security at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where the class he conducts with Graham Allison, “Central Challenges in American National Security, Strategy and the Press,’’ is among the most popular at the school.

Tickets open to public in November

Henry Louis Gates Headshot

Tue. Jan. 21, 2025

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.:
"Finding Our Global Roots"

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University. Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, Professor Gates has published numerous books and produced and hosted an array of documentary films. The Black Church (PBS) and Frederick Douglass: In Five Speeches (HBO), which he executive produced, each received Emmy nominations. His latest history series for PBS is Making Black America: Through the Grapevine. Finding Your Roots, Gates's groundbreaking genealogy and genetics series, has completed its ninth season on PBS and will return for a tenth season in 2024.

Gates is a recipient of a number of honorary degrees, including his alma mater, the University of Cambridge. Gates was a member of the first class awarded "genius grants" by the MacArthur Foundation in 1981, and in 1998 he became the first African American scholar to be awarded the National Humanities Medal.

A native of Piedmont, West Virginia, Gates earned his B.A. in History, summa cum laude, from Yale University in 1973, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in English Literature from Clare College at Cambridge in 1979, where he is also an Honorary Fellow. A former chair of the Pulitzer Prize board, he is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and serves on a wide array of boards, including the New York Public Library, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Aspen Institute, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Library of America, and The Studio Museum of Harlem. In 2011, his portrait, by Yuqi Wang, was hung in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. He is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society.

Tickets open to public in December

If you have a disability or require an accommodation for a lecture, please contact
University Development and Alumni Engagement at (904) 620-4334 five business days before the event to enable us to provide you with the appropriate accommodation.