Engaging Perspectives

Headshots of the Sharp Viewpoint Series' speakers.
Sharp Viewpoint Series


The University of Richmond celebrates fostering critical conversations and dialogue through the Sharp Viewpoint Speakers Series. This year, President Ronald A. Crutcher will host a series of conversations about pressing issues of our time with pairs of thought leaders from across the political aisle.

SEPT. 21, 2020 • 7 P.M. • VIA LIVESTREAM

Bipartisanship: What’s Changed and What’s in Store


Former White House Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama


Former Chief of Staff to Speaker of the House John Boehner

Denis McDonough, former White House Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama, and Mike Sommers, former Chief of Staff to Speaker of the House John Boehner, will discuss American political bipartisanship in the Trump era, the state of the 2020 U.S. presidential race, and possibilities for compromise amidst extreme political polarization. Mr. McDonough is currently Senior Advisor at the Markle Foundation and served as White House Chief of Staff from February 2013 to January 2017. Mr. Sommers is President and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute and spent nearly 20 years working as aide to Speaker Boehner, including serving as his Chief of Staff.

NOV. 11, 2020 • 7 P.M. • VIA LIVESTREAM

The 2020 Elections: What Happened?


Former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush


Democratic political analyst and consultant

Former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush Mary Kate Cary joins Democratic political analyst and consultant Mary Anne Marsh to discuss the 2020 election results and their implications for critical national issues, including the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and response, economic recovery, and a new era of American civil rights activism. Ms. Cary is Practitioner Senior Fellow at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and provides political commentary for NPR, CNN, and Fox News. Ms. Marsh is principal at Dewey Square Group in Boston, served in senior roles on the campaigns of Senator John Kerry and Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and provides political commentary for major media outlets, including The New York Times, Politico, and The Washington Post.

MARCH 26, 2021 • 7 P.M. • VIA LIVESTREAM

Friendship and Dialogue
Across Difference


Philosopher, political activist, and professor


American legal scholar and professor

Philosopher, political activist, and professor at Harvard University Dr. Cornel West joins his friend and former colleague, Dr. Robert George, an American legal scholar and professor at Princeton University, to discuss the importance of fostering dialogue and cultivating friendships across ideological and political divides. Dr. West is Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard and author of 20 books including Race Matters and, most recently, Black Prophetic Fire. Dr. George is the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton and the Herbert W. Vaughan Senior Fellow at the Witherspoon Institute.


Due to COVID-19, events will be held via livestream at richmond.edu/sharp. All events are free and open to the public, and registration is required.


Registration is now open, please visit www.crowdcast.io/e/university-of-richmond/register to register.

Event Program
Welcome:  President Ronald A. Crutcher
Introduction: Dr. Sandra Peart
Dean and E. Claiborne Robins Distinguished Professor in Leadership Studies and President, Jepson Scholars Foundation
Discussion: Mr. McDonough, Mr. Sommers, and Dr. Peart
Closing Remarks: President Ronald A. Crutcher


Registration opens Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 10 a.m.


Registration opens Friday, March 5, at 10 a.m.

About The Sharp Viewpoint Speaker Series

The Sharp Viewpoint Speakers Series is a program of the Office of the President. The series was established in 2011 in honor of Richard L. Sharp, a nationally recognized entrepreneur, to present competing views on topics crucial to our nation and global society.

Sharp was a recognized thought leader and an exemplar of personal and professional integrity who served as a mentor to aspiring business and community leaders. Among his many professional roles, he served as president, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board at Circuit City until 2002. Under his leadership, Circuit City developed into one of the nation’s Fortune 500 businesses. He also directed Circuit City’s venture into CarMax, which revolutionized the automotive retail industry, growing it into the nation’s largest retailer of previously owned cars. He retired as chairman of the board in June 2007. He also served as chairman of the board of Crocs, Inc. from 2005 to 2010.

He was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease in late 2010 but continued to demonstrate his values of leading by example, until his death in 2014, by helping shape the landscape of Virginia through his personal philanthropy, and by inspiring and motivating others to give back to their community.


Join the Conversation

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