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Author Talk – Michael S. Roth with Chesterwood

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Michael S. Roth ’78 became the 16th president of Wesleyan University in 2007. He has
overseen the launch of academic programs at Wesleyan such as the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life and the Shapiro Center for Writing, as well as five new
interdisciplinary colleges emphasizing research and cohort building in the areas of the
environment, film, East Asian studies, integrative sciences, and design and engineering. Under his leadership, Wesleyan had its most ambitious fundraising campaign in its history, raising more than $482 million, primarily for financial aid. Roth has undertaken a number of initiatives that have made a Wesleyan education more affordable for many and more accessible to students from under-represented groups.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s affirmative action decision in July 2023, he
announced a suite of new recruiting efforts aimed at enhancing diverse campus learning including an end to admissions preference for legacy applicants and the creation of an African Scholars Program. An intellectual historian, Roth has published several books centered on how people make sense of the past. Since returning to Wesleyan, he has published three books (all with Yale University Press) bearing on liberal education, the most recent being The Student, A Short History (2023). His Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters (2014), was recognized with the Association of American Colleges & Universities’ Frederic W. Ness award for a book that best illuminates the goals and practices of a contemporary liberal education. Roth’s 2019 book, Safe Enough Spaces: A Pragmatist’s Approach to Inclusion, Free Speech, and Political Correctness, addresses some of the most contentious issues in American higher education, including affirmative action, safe spaces, and questions of free speech. Roth continues to teach undergraduate courses and at Wesleyan and online.