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Distinguished Lecture Series at Sanford

The Sanford School brings a variety of high-profile speakers to Duke each year with the goal of connecting students and faculty to thought leaders. These lectures and events are free and open to the public. Several of our recurring series are supported by endowment funds.

The Terry Sanford Distinguished Lecture

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  • Photo of Jon Huntsman Jr. with Professor Phil Bennett

    “Our party needs to talk about immigration as an economic issue, not just a security issue. We’ve got to continue to encourage brainpower to come into this country.” - Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., 2013 Terry Sanford Distinguished Lecturer.

Endowed by the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, this prestigious lecture – Sanford’s longest-running series – facilitates addresses from “men and women of the highest personal and professional stature, such as presidents, prime ministers and cabinet members, chief executive officers of corporations, visionary artists, and esteemed scholars.”

The lectures are open to the public as well as Duke University students and are meant to  promote engaged and enlightened leadership. They are held in honor of the late Terry Sanford, a bold leader who served as North Carolina governor, U.S. senator, president of Duke University, and founder of our school.

Previous lecturers have included former heads of state, sitting cabinet members, and Pulitzer prize-winning authors. They include Derek Bok, Erskine Bowles, Dan Blue, David Brooks, Thomas L. Friedman, Jon Huntsman Jr., Nan Keohane, Joseph Lieberman, Neal Lane, Richard Lugar, Robert McNamara, Janet Napolitano, Yasuhiro Nakasone, Turgut Ozal, Shimon Peres, Gail Rosseau, Oscar Arias Sánchez, Rajeev Shah, Alan Simpson, Shashi Tharoor, and Juan Zarate.


Named for benefactor David M. Rubenstein, a Duke alumnus and chair of Duke’s Board of Trustees, this endowed lecture series promises to bring high-profile thought leaders and policy makers to campus each year starting in the 2015-2016 academic year.


Named for benefactor Lester Crown, the lecture was established to bring speakers to Duke to discuss ethical concerns in the arts, sciences, medicine, business and other fields. It was conceived of as a centerpiece in the Sanford School’s efforts to focus student, faculty and public opinion on the critical importance of ethical decision-making in the professions and public life.

Crown is an enterprising businessman and active civic leader, chairman of the board of Material Service Corp., and president of Henry Crown and Co. Previous Crown lecturers include Bill Bradley, Jared Diamond, Shirin Ebadi, Marian Wright Edelman, Howard Gardner, Tony Kushner, Paul Rusesabagina, Julian Savulescu, Rebecca Skloot and Jody Williams.




"Racism is a crime of pillaging and plundering." — Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2014 Robert R. Wilson Lecturer