Spring Assembly Series to feature two alumni

This semester’s Assembly Series will highlight topics ranging from queer theory to urban equality to campaign strategy.

The Assembly Series, which runs from from February 4 through April 15, has been bringing leaders and experts from various fields to Washington University since 1953.

Organizers are also looking ahead to the fall, when the University will be hosting a presidential debate on campus. The appeals process for speakers will next occur in April, rather than their usual time, September, to allow groups to invite debate-related speakers.

Unique to this semester’s lineup is the presence of two alumni speakers: Kevin Ray, an expert in art and cultural heritage law, and Eric Schultz, principal deputy White House press secretary since 2014. An alumnus last delivered a Speaker Series lecture in the spring 2014 semester, but no semester has featured more than one alumnus in at least the past six years.

Barbara Rea, director of the Assembly Series, expressed her excitement about the alumni duo’s presence at the series.

“One is an international legal expert in ‘cultural assets’ – a term that covers everything from retrieving valuable art stolen by the Nazis…to returning ancient artifacts in museums to their countries of origin. The other is an alum who literally has the president’s ear,” Rea said.

Equally excited about the series lineup is sophomore Reuben Siegman, programming director for the Washington University Political Review, which is co-sponsoring political strategist David Axelrod’s lecture.

“We are so excited that Axelrod is coming because of his unique insight in the political process. He has guided many candidates to improbable victories throughout the years, including President Obama’s legendary campaigns in ’08 and ’12,” Siegman said. “In an election cycle as turbulent as the 2016 cycle has been so far Axelrod can provide an understanding that few others in the industry can.”

Unlike previous years, there is no current faculty member scheduled to speak as a part of the series. Rea said, however, that the committee will continue its search for a faculty member speaker.

“The Assembly Series likes to feature at least one of our own faculty members each semester,” Rea said. “We had hoped to add professor of earth and planetary sciences Bill McKinnon, to discuss his work as a leader in the current Pluto Mission, but that has been moved to the fall, so I’m still trying to add a program in late February or early March that presents one of our many thought leaders.”

Editor’s note: Reuben Siegman is related to author Alex Siegman.

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