posted April 7, 2011

Last Lecture Series to Feature Annie Dandavati

Dr. Annie Dandavati, professor of political science and director of international studies at Hope College, will present the address "Catching Flies with Honey" on Tuesday, April 19, at 7 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

Dandavati will be speaking through the "Last Lecture Series" organized by the college's Alcor chapter of the national Mortar Board honorary society to feature members of the faculty.  The chapter will give away copies of the book "Say You're One of Them," by Uwem Akpan, to the first 50 in attendance.

The title of the lecture series, which the chapter initiated during the 2008-09 school year, is rhetorical.  The lectures are not literally presented as the last that the speakers will deliver at Hope, but are meant to highlight the advice that they would most want to share if the event was indeed the final opportunity for them to address the college's students.  The professors are being asked to reflect on their careers and lives, and to think deeply about what matters to them and about what wisdom they would like to impart.

The concept was inspired by the "Last Lecture" delivered at CarnegieMellonUniversity by Dr. Randy Pausch on Sept. 18, 2007.  Pausch, a member of the Carnegie Mellon faculty who had terminal pancreatic cancer -- a fact known at the time that he spoke -- presented "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams."  He died on July 25, 2008, at age 47.

Dandavati has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1992, and was appointed director of the international studies major this past fall.  From 2007 to 2010, she served as director of women's studies at the college.  Among other activity at Hope, she currently serves as faculty moderator.

Dandavati has led or co-led study-abroad programs to nations including Mexico, Chile and Rwanda, and in the fall of 2009 served as the college's exchange professor to Meiji Gakuin University in Japan. Her areas of interest in both research and teaching include comparative politics, Latin American politics, gender and development, and human rights.

Her publications include the books "The Women's Movement and the Transition to Democracy in Chile" (1996) and "Engendering Democracy in Chile" (2004).  She is also author of the chapter "Women and the Reconstruction of Chilean Democracy," included in the book "Democratization and the Protection of Human Rights Challenges and Contradictions" (1998).  She has also written many articles and papers for presentation at professional conferences in the U.S. and abroad.

In 1997, the college's graduating class presented Dandavati with the Hope Outstanding Professor Educator (H.O.P.E.) Award, and she also presented the college's Commencement address in 1997. In 2004 she received the college's Multicultural Life Award and Outstanding Hope Woman Award, and in January of this year she received a "Ruth and John Reed Faculty Achievement Award" from the college.

Born in India, she holds her bachelor's degree from Jesus and Mary College, her master's from Jawahar Lal Nehru University, and her doctorate from the University of Denver.

Mortar Board is a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for outstanding achievement in scholarship, leadership and service, and provides opportunities for continued leadership development, promotes service to college and universities, and encourages lifelong contributions to the global community.  Since its founding in 1918, the organization has grown from the four founding chapters to 228 collegiate chapters with nearly 250,000 initiated members across the nation.

The Alcor chapter has existed at Hope since the 1936-37 academic year, although it did not become part of the national Mortar Board organization until 1961.  During the 2010 Mortar Board National Conference in July, the chapter received the organization's highest honor for a collegiate chapter, the Ruth Weimer Mount Chapter Excellence Award.  The chapter also received eight "Project Excellence Awards," including for the Last Lecture Series.

The chapter also sponsored a "last chance talk" during the 1960s.  The idea back then was to invite a faculty member to express his/her ideas under the hypothetical assumption that this would be the last opportunity to address the student body.  The late Dr. D. Ivan Dykstra, professor of philosophy, delivered the first "last chance talk" in the spring of 1962.

The Maas Center is located at 264 Columbia Ave., on Columbia Avenue at 11th Street.