Christendom announces 2016-2017 featured speakers

Christendom College will welcome four educators and authors with varying subjects of focus to Front Royal this school year as part of its Featured Speakers program.

Timothy O’Donnell, president of the college, said hosting the speakers has been a part of the college’s academic program for as long as he can remember. Long before the speakers are welcomed for a reception at the college, he said students are surveyed and a smaller committee chooses a variety of speakers that focus on different disciplines.

“We try to pick people who are out there who are having an impact on society, on major issues that are out there,” he said. “We try to get a wide range of men and women in different fields.”

The program will start on Oct. 3 with a speech by Rusty Reno, a Yale graduate and editor of “First Things” magazine. O’Donnell said he’s an experienced writer who will bring a stimulating program to the college.

On Nov. 14, Jesuit priest Robert Spitzer will speak on what O’Donnell called the “four levels of happiness.” Spitzer is currently president of the Magis Center and was president of Gonzaga University for more than 10 years.

“He’s really done a lot of creative work in a lot of different fields,” O’Donnell said. “He’s got a great theological mind but also has knowledge of mathematics and physics.”

O’Donnell said Ryan Anderson, political commentator and author of several books on marriage and religious liberty, had spoken to a few Christendom students last year and made a “phenomenal impression.” Having previously seen Anderson serve as a keynote speaker at the Napa Institute, O’Donnell said he’ll bring his cited views on marriage controversies to Christendom when he speaks there later in the year.

“He’s young, dynamic and very bright … I think a great role model for students as well,” he said of Anderson.

Elizabeth Lev, who lives in Rome and teaches art and art history to Christendom students, will be the last speaker in this year’s program. O’Donnell said she’ll bring her expertise on the Italian Renaissance to the Front Royal campus when she speaks in the spring.

After they finish delivering their speech, O’Donnell said many speakers tend to stay around for Q&A sessions with students.

“It is something that’s very enriching and very stimulating,” he said of the program as a whole.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com