Annual Lectures

The Center sponsors annual Davis, Richmond, and Weiss lectures. These lectures are delivered by distinguished scholars who typically spend at least a full day on campus. In addition to a public talk, the lecturer may give a more specialized colloquium, speak to a class, or meet with interested groups of faculty and students.

The W. Allison Davis ’24 and John A Davis ’33 Lecture

The W. Allison Davis 1924 and John A. Davis 1933 Lecture commemorates the remarkable work of two distinguished scholars, brothers who, throughout their adult lives, made important contributions to equal rights and opportunity in the United States. Allison Davis, valedictorian of the Class of 1924, was a pioneer in the social anthropological study of class and caste in the American South. John A. Davis pursued wide-ranging political science work on race in both the United States and Africa. The Davis Lecture is delivered each year by a scholar whose work concentrates on some aspect of race, class, or education in the United States.

Previous Davis Lecturers:

  • Thema Bryant-Davis
  • Ruha Benjamin
  • Ned Blackhawk
  • Beverly Wright
  • Monique Morris
  • Sonia Sanchez
  • Donna Murch
  • Ted Shaw
  • Khalil Gibran Muhammad
  • Danielle Allen
  • Robin D.G. Kelley
  • Angela Riley
  • Richard Thompson Ford
  • Charles H. Long
  • Pedro Noguera
  • Dorothy Roberts
  • Patricia Williams
  • Johnetta Cole
  • Frank Wu
  • Richard Rodriguez
  • Manning Marable
  • Michael Dorris
  • Ishmael Reed
  • Charles Joyner
  • David Levering Lewis
  • Lloyd Richards
  • Margaret Wilkinson
  • Toni Cade Bambara
  • Joseph E. Harris
  • Cornel West

The Richmond Lecture and Professorship

The Richmond Lecture brings to Williams scholars with broad scientific and humanistic interest, specifically with some focus on the history or philosophy of science. Since 2015, the Richmond fund has supported a visiting professorship, the recipient of which delivers the annual lecture or hosts other campus conversations. Sponsored by the Oakley Center for Humanities and Social Sciences, this effort is made possible by an endowment founded by Don Richmond, a former Williams professor of mathematics.

Previous Richmond Lecturers:

  • Ahmed Ragab
  • Nicholas Carr
  • F. Jamil Ragep
  • Fredrika Spindler
  • Cristina Alvarez Milan
  • Daniel Healy
  • Lawrence Principe
  • Daniel Everett
  • Sherry Turkle
  • E.O. Wilson
  • Katharine Park

The Andrews B Weiss, M.D., ’61 Lecture on Medicine and Medical Ethics

The Andrew B. Weiss, M.D., ’61 Lecture on Medicine and Medical Ethics promotes discussion of health care, broadly conceived, including the economics of health care as well as biomedical and ethical issues. Sponsored by the Oakley Center for Humanities and Social Sciences, the Weiss Lecture was endowed by the late Andrew B. Weiss ’61 and his wife Madge Weiss.


Previous Weiss Lecturers:


  • Ophelia Dahl
  • Lauren Smith
  • Anita Allen
  • Matthew Liao
  • Udo Schuklenk
  • Otis Brawley
  • Martin Wilkinson
  • Maggie Little
  • Susan Reverby
  • Siddhartha Mukherjee
  • Harold Varmus
  • Helen Epstein
  • Kurt Eichenwald
  • Paul Farmer
  • Alice Pentland
  • Panelists John Cronin, Dr. Alan Sager, and Lara Shore-Sheppard