Charter Lecture Series

Sponsored by the Provost’s Office, the Charter Lecture series was established in 1988 to honor the high ideals expressed in the 1785 charter that made UGA the birthplace of public higher education in America.

Past Charter Lectures


UGA’s John Drake and Claudio Saunt to deliver 2022 Charter Lecture

John Drake and Claudio SauntTwo leading scholars at the University of Georgia will discuss their individual research programs and their collaboration at the intersection of history and infectious disease during the 2022 Charter Lecture.

John Drake, Distinguished Research Professor in the Odum School of Ecology and founding director of the Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases, and Claudio Saunt, Distinguished Research Professor and Russell Professor of American History in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, will deliver the 2022 Charter Lecture at 1 p.m. on April 11.

The event, part of UGA’s Spring 2022 Signature Lectures Series, is free and open to the public. To register for the Zoom webinar, click here.

Drake’s research combines evolutionary biology, ecology and epidemiology to develop new quantitative methods that reconcile theory and data, with applications for forecasting the trajectories of epidemics and mapping the distributions of infectious diseases such as COVID-19, Ebola and West Nile virus.

Saunt is widely recognized as one of nation’s foremost scholars of Native American history and a pioneer in the field of digital history. He is the author of four books that have been received with widespread acclaim, both within and beyond the scholarly community. His most recent book is “Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory.”

Both Drake and Saunt were named Regents’ Professors this year, an honor bestowed by the board of regents on distinguished faculty whose scholarship or creative activity is recognized both nationally and internationally as innovative and pace-setting.

The two faculty members are currently collaborating on an interdisciplinary scholarly work on smallpox in early America. The project brings together their expertise in the dynamics of infectious diseases and American history.


Ronald L. Simons
, 2020 Regents’ Professor and Distinguished Research Professor in the department of sociology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences
“Explaining Differences in the Speed of Rate of Biological Aging”

Steven R.H. Beach
, 2021 Regents’ Professor and Distinguished Research Professor in the department of psychology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences
“Family Psychology at UGA”

Pejman Rohani
, 2020 Regents’ Professor and University of Georgia Athletic Association Professor in Ecology and Infectious Diseases in the Odum School of Ecology and the College of Veterinary Medicine
“Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases”

Diane Marie Amann
, 2021 Regents’ Professor and the Emily and Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law in the School of Law
Nuremberg Women”


Roger C. Hunter
Program Manager, NASA Small Spacecraft Technology
"NASA’s Kepler Mission and Small Spacecraft Technologies: Today and Beyond"
“Hollywood South: The New $9.5 Billion Georgia Industry”
Jeff Stepakoff 
Executive Director, Georgia Film Academy 
Gale Anne Hurd 
Executive Producer, The Walking Dead 
Will Packer 
Executive Producer, Straight Outta Compton 
Lee Thomas 
Deputy Commission for Music, Film and Digital Entertainment, Georgia Department of Economic Development
Cynthia Kenyon 
Vice President, Aging Research, Calico LLC, Former President, Genetics Society of America “Aging and the Immortal Germline”
Senator Sam Nunn and Dr. William Perry 
CEO, Nuclear Threat Initiative and Former U.S. Secretary of Defense 
“Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe In An Age Of Terrorism”
Edward J. Larson 
Professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning Historian 
“George Washington And America’s Second Revolution”
Charlayne-Hunter Gault 
Award-winning journalist and UGA’s first African-American woman graduate (ABJ ’63) “Reflections on Nelson Mandela”

James R. Clapper 
U.S. Director of National Intelligence 
“The Importance of Intelligence Integration”
Natasha Trethewey
Poet Laureate of the United States (2012-2014)
Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University Poetry
Reading with Commentary
Lee R. Lynd
Paul and Joan Queneau Distinguished Professor of Engineering, Dartmouth College
“The Sustainable Resource Transition: Systemic Change and Enabling the Improbable”
Paul Begala 
Political consultant and commentator 
“Show Business for Ugly People: Why Politics Matters”
Robert Hazen 
Senior Research Scientist, Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Geophysical Laboratory 
“Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life’s Origin”
Dennis Dimick 
Executive Editor, National Geographic magazine 
“Changing Climate: Where Energy and Global Warming Meet”
Kenneth Miller 
Professor of biology, Brown University 
“God, Darwin, and Design: Thoughts about America’s Continuing Problem with Evolution” 
Taylor Branch 
Pulitzer prize-winning author and Civil Rights historian 
“Democracy in Crisis: Martin Luther King and the Future”

Hanna H. Gray 
Former President and Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor Emerita of History at the University of Chicago 
“History: Studying the Unpredictable Past”

Lawrence M. Friedman 
Marion Rice Kirkwood Professor of Law, Stanford Law School 
“The One-Way Mirror: Law, Privacy, and the Media”

David Sloan Wilson 
Professor of Biology and Anthropology, Binghamton University 
“Darwin’s Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society”

Richard Powers 
Professor of English, University of Illinois 
“The Language of Life: A Rough Draft”


Linda Gordon 
Florence Kelley Professor of History and Vilas Research Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin; and Professor of History, New York University 
“Vigilantism and Childnapping in the Arizona Territory: Race and Family Values”

Roger W. Ferguson, Jr. 
Vice Chairman, Board of Governors, Federal Reserve System “One View from the Federal Reserve”

Edward O. Wilson 
University Research Professor Emeritus, Harvard University “The Future of Life”

Lynn Margulis 

Distinguished Professor in the Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts 
“The Face of Gaia: Earth's Microcosm”

James M. McPherson 
Professor, Department of History, Princeton University 
“The Problem of Peace in the Midst of War, 1863-1865”

William Cronon 
Professor of History, Geography, and Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison 
“Humanist Environmentalism: A Manifesto”


Jared M. Diamond 
Professor of Physiology, UCLA School of Medicine 
“Why Did Human History Unfold Differently on Different Continents for the last 13,000 Years?”

Howard H. Baker, Jr. 
Former U.S. Senator from Tennessee 
“What's Happening?”

Mary-Claire King 
American Cancer Society Research Professor 
Department of Medicine and Genetics, University of Washington 
“Genetics and Human Rights”


Freeman Dyson 
Eminent Physicist-philosopher and author, Princeton University 
“Gravity is Cool, or Why our Universe is Hospitable to Life”

Arthur Levine 
President and Professor of Education at Teachers College, Columbia 
“The Remaking of the American University”

Rita Dove 
Former Poet Laureate of the United States 
Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia 
A Poetry Reading by Rita Dove

 Alex Kotlowitz 

Award-winning writer and speaker 
“Writing on the Other America: Is Anybody Listening? Does Anybody Care?”

David Kessler 
Dean of the Yale School of Medicine 
“The Tobacco Wars”

Barbara Fields 
Historian, Columbia University 
“Race, Racism, and Identity”


Mary L. Good 
Former undersecretary for technology for the technology administration in the U. S. Department of Commerce; managing member of Venture Capital Investors, Little Rock, Arkansas. 
“Higher Education as Part of the Global Enterprise”

Roald Hoffman 
Nobel Prize winner, chemist, and poet, professor of chemistry at Cornell University Ithaca, NY 
“Chemistry’s Essential Tension: The Same and Not the Same”

Martin Marty 
Pre-eminent Scholar on American Religion, 
and Fairfax M. Cone 
Distinguished Service Professor of History of Christianity at the University of Chicago 
“The Dangers of Religion in America – The Dangers on NonReligion in America”


Tony Kushner 
Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-Winning Playwright 
“Arts in the Current Political Climate”

Ellis Cose 
Author on Race Relations in America and contributing editor for Newsweek 
“America’s Quest to Move Beyond Race”

Deborah Leigh Blum 
Author and science writer at The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee; Pulitzer Prize winner for beat reporting in 1992 for a series on primate research, titled “The Monkey Wars” 
“Sex on the Brain”


Jill Ker Conway 
Visiting Scholar, Program in Science, Technology and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Tech. “Myths, Memoirs and the Modern Consciousness”

Paul Berg 
Department of Biochemistry, Stanford School of Medicine 
“Understanding our Genes: Opportunities and Concerns”

Martin E. P. Seligman 
Kogod Professor and Director of Clinical Training in Psychology, University of Pennsylvania 
“Learned Optimism: Preventing Depression, Boosting Achievement, Improving Health”


N. Scott Momaday
Regents Professor of the Humanities, University of Arizona
“The Mystery of Language: Native American Oral Tradition”

Daniel Schorr 
Veteran reporter and commentator 
Last of Edward R. Murrow's legendary CBS team still fully active in journalism 
“Forgive Us Our Press Passes: Why all the Media Bashing”

Larry L. Smarr 
Director, National Center for Supercomputing Applications 
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 
“The Creation of Cyberspace: How the Internet will Change your Life”

Czeslaw Milosz and Wole Soyinka 
Nobel Laureates of Literature 
A reading from their works


Robert Schrieffer 
University Professor of Physics, Florida State University 
“Superconductivity for Poets: From Quantum Physics to Tomorrow's Technology”

Walter E. Massey 
Provost and Senior Vice President-- Academic Affairs, The University of California 
“Research Universities in the Post-Cold War Era: How much change is necessary? Possible?”

Matt Williams 
Playwright, Film and Television Writer, Director, and Producer 
“The Responsibility of the Storyteller”


Arthur L. Schawlow 
J.G. Jackson and C.J. Wood Professor of Physics at Stanford University 
“What Lasers Can Do”

Gary L. Francione 
Professor of Law at Rutgers Law School-Newark 
“Animals, Property, and the Law”

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 
W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities 
Professor of English, and Director of Afro-American Studies Harvard 
“The End of Civilization as We Know It”

Drucilla L. Cornell 

Professor of Law, Benjamin N. Cardoza School of Law 
“Sex, Gender, and Equivalent Rights”

Michael Dorris and Louise Erdrich 
Award-Winning writers 
“Beyond Cliché, Beyond Politics: Multiculturalism and the Fact of America”


Toni Morrison
Robert F. Goheen Professor of Humanities, Princeton University
“Studies in American Africanism: Gertrude Stein and the Difference She Makes”

Árpád Göncz
President of the Republic of Hungary
“Politics and Literature: Politics in Literature”

Paul R. Ehrlich
Bing Professor of Population Studies, Stanford University
“Human Population Growth and the Deterioration of the Environment”

Peter H. Raven 

Director of the Missouri Botanical Garden 
Home Secretary National Academy of Sciences 
“Poverty, Politics, & Extinction in the Tropics—And Their Impact on Us”

Robert Coles 
Professor of Psychiatry and Medical Humanities, Harvard University 
“The Moral Life of the Young”

Wendy Wasserstein 
Pulitzer Prize-Winning playwright 
“A Life in the Theatre”