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Speaking About Speech — University of Richmond 2024 Sharp Series to Focus on Dialogue, Difference, and Civil Discourse

Speakers Will Explore Civil Liberties, Free Expression, and Constitutional Law

January 17, 2024

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — The University of Richmond celebrates fostering important and challenging dialogues through the annual Sharp Viewpoint Speakers Series.

Throughout 2024, three speakers with expertise in civil liberties and constitutional law will participate in dialogues considering why civil discourse is both important and sometimes difficult and exploring what democracies and university communities stand to gain from embracing a shared commitment to free expression.

“The Sharp series is a wonderful opportunity for our community to come together to learn and grow while hearing from some of the nation’s most interesting public intellectuals,” said President Kevin F. Hallock. “This year’s series will explore speech as a tool for expressing, responding to, and navigating fault lines among diverse viewpoints, capacities critical to our educational mission at the University of Richmond, and the functioning of democracies.”

Sharp Series events are free and open to the public and the campus community. Advance registration is required and will open about three weeks before each event. All events begin at 5 p.m. and will be held in the Modlin Center for the Arts, Camp Concert Hall. A brief reception will follow each program.

2024 Sharp Series Speakers include:

Robert P. George, Feb. 15
McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Professor of Politics, and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Princeton University

George, a legal scholar, political philosopher, and public intellectual, has served as chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and the U.S. President’s Council on Bioethics. He has been a U.S. member of UNESCO’s World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology and a judicial fellow at the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a recipient of the U.S. Presidential Citizens Medal, the Honorific Medal for the Defense of Human Rights of the Republic of Poland, the Canterbury Medal of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and Princeton University’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. In 2023, he was an inaugural recipient of the Barry Prize for Distinguished Intellectual Achievement from the newly established American Academy of Sciences and Letters. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Swarthmore, George holds J.D. and M.T.S. degrees from Harvard University as well as D.Phil., B.C.L., D.C.L., D.Litt. degrees from Oxford University.

Suzanne Nossel, March 28
Chief Executive Officer, PEN America

Nossel, a human rights advocate, serves as the chief executive officer of PEN America, the leading free expression organization, and is the author of Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All. Her career has spanned government service and leadership roles in the corporate and nonprofit sectors. She has served as the chief operating officer of Human Rights Watch and executive director of Amnesty International USA. During the first term of the Obama Administration, Nossel served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations. She also coined the term “Smart Power,” the title of a 2004 article she published in Foreign Affairs magazine. Nossel has published op-eds in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as scholarly articles in Foreign Affairs, Dissent, and Democracy. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

Erwin Chemerinsky, Oct. 24
Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law, Berkeley Law

Chemerinsky, a legal scholar known for his studies of constitutional law and federal civil procedure, previously served as the founding dean and Distinguished Professor of Law and Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law at the University of California, Irvine School of Law. Before that, he taught law and political science at Duke University, University of Southern California Law School, and DePaul College of Law. He is the author of 16 books, including leading casebooks and treatises, and has written more than 200 law review articles. He argues appellate cases, including in the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2016, he was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2022, he became President of the Association of American Law Schools. Chemerinsky earned his bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and his law degree from Harvard Law School. In 2024, National Jurist magazine again named Chemerinsky the most influential person in legal education in the United States. 

The Richard L. Sharp Viewpoint Speakers Series was established in 2011 in honor of Richard L. Sharp, a nationally recognized entrepreneur, to present competing views on topics crucial to our society.


NOTE: Media wishing to attend any of these events must contact Sunni Brown, director of media and public relations at to make arrangements.