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Sharp Viewpoint Series

Engaging Perspectives

Engaging Perspectives

Sharing Knowledge Inspires Dynamic Change.

The University of Richmond celebrates fostering important and challenging dialogues through the Sharp Viewpoint Speakers Series. This year, President Ronald A. Crutcher will welcome prominent thought leaders to campus to discuss critical aspects of identity development, including gender, race, faith, and political ideology. As Spiders, we welcome the opportunity to further the conversation on complex topics. We analyze and embrace differing viewpoints. And we believe that, through critical discussion, new ideas take root, grow, and evolve.

This event has been canceled due to the University’s response to COVID-19. For more information, please visit our response site.
March 31, 2020 ▪ 7 p.m. ▪ Queally Center
The Clean Air of Civil Discourse: Advancing Interfaith Cooperation
Eboo Patel
Founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core, Former Member of President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council, and Author of Out of Many Faiths

Eboo Patel will discuss the complex landscape of religious diversity in America and the power of interfaith cooperation in the 21st century. Founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, Patel has worked with governments, social sector organizations, and college and university campuses for more than 15 years to help make interfaith cooperation a social norm. Named by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Leaders of 2009, Patel served on President Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council and is the author, most recently, of Out of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and the American Promise (2018).

Previous Speakers

Sept. 24, 2019 ▪ 7 p.m. ▪ Queally Center
Advancing Trans Equality on Campus and Across the Country
Sarah McBride
National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, Delaware State Senate Candidate, and Author of Tomorrow Will Be Different

Sarah McBride will discuss what it means to be openly transgender in America today and the LGBTQ community’s ongoing struggle for equal rights. McBride is the National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign and the author of Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality (2018). In 2012, McBride made national headlines when she came out as transgender while serving as student body president at American University. In 2016, she became the first openly transgender person to address a major party political convention when she spoke at the Democratic NationalConvention in Philadelphia.

Nov. 12, 2019 ▪ 7 p.m. ▪ Queally Center
The Race Card: Observations on Race, Identity, and Inclusion
Michele Norris
Peabody Award-winning Journalist, Founder of The Race Card Project, and Author of The Grace of Silence

Michele Norris started The Race Card Project in 2010 after the publication of her family memoir, The Grace of Silence (2010), to foster a wider conversation about race in America. Norris will discuss how she turned a pejorative phrase into a productive dialogue on a difficult topic. Norris is one of the most trusted voices in American journalism. For more than a decade, she served as a host of NPR’s All Things Considered where she interviewed world leaders, American presidents, Nobel laureates, leading thinkers, and groundbreaking artists.

Feb. 11, 2020 ▪ 7 p.m. ▪ Queally Center
Forging a Political Identity: A Personal Journey
Michael Steele
Former Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Former Lt. Governor of Maryland, and Political Analyst for MSNBC

Michael Steele will discuss the development of his political identity, sharing his personal journey from his childhood as the son of a working mother in Washington, D.C., to his difficulties in college, his years in a Catholic seminary, and his election to public office and rise in the Republican Party. A self-described "Lincoln Republican," Steele made history in 2003 when he was elected Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, becoming the first African-American elected to statewide office in the state. He made history again in 2009 when he became the first African-American chairman of the Republican National Committee. A skilled communicator and commentator, Steele is currently a political analyst for MSNBC.


All events are free and open to the public. General admission ticket registration is required and opens three weeks prior to each event. Note that tickets will become void 5 minutes prior to each event. If you are unable to secure a ticket in advance, any available tickets will be distributed starting 30 minutes before the event. An allotment of seats in the main hall have remained available on a walk-up basis for all events to date. Seating in the main theatre is by general admission, come early to claim your seat.

To reserve your seat, please visit the links above or call the Modlin Center Box Office at 804–289–8980.

Event Reception and Information

EVENT FORMAT: All speaker events will feature a dynamic interview and conversational exchange with President Ronald A. Crutcher.

AUDIENCE OVERFLOW: In the case of reaching full audience capacity in the main theater, some guests may be directed to a live video simulcast nearby.

RECEPTIONS: Details for these receptions will be available at the event.

GETTING TO CAMPUS: The Queally Center is located at 142 UR Drive, University of Richmond, VA 23173. Parking is available directly across the street from the building.

For more information, please see driving instructions to campus and the campus map. (Note: Queally Center is #142 on the campus map).

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

Share your own perspective of the speaker’s viewpoints by mentioning @URichmond on Twitter or by using the hashtag #URsharp.