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More than Words: Free Expression, Responsibility and Inclusion In Higher Education
American University Washington DC
Bipartisan Policy Center

More than Words: Free Expression, Responsibility and Inclusion In Higher Education

Higher education leaders will discuss the importance and complexity of building a campus community and culture of free inquiry and speech while building an inclusive climate.

President of American University Sylvia M. Burwell will host the event and Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill, director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Campus Free Expression Project, will moderate. Joining the panel are Taffye Benson Clayton, vice president for inclusion and diversity at Auburn University, and Ronald Daniels, president of Johns Hopkins University.

Event Details

Date: January 31, 2023

Time: 4-6 p.m.

Location: Constitution Hall
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Sylvia Burwell

Sylvia M. Burwell
President, American University

Sylvia M. Burwell is American University's 15th president. Burwell has held two cabinet positions in the United States government—she served as the 22nd secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services from 2014 to 2017 and as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, working with Congress to negotiate a two-year budget deal following the 2013 government shutdown. In both roles, she was known as a leader who worked successfully across the aisle and focused on delivering results for the American people.

Her other extensive government experience includes roles as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, deputy chief of staff to the president, chief of staff to the secretary of the Treasury, and special assistant to the director of the National Economic Council.

Taffye Benson Clayton

Taffye Benson Clayton
VP of Inclusion and Diversity, Auburn University

Dr. Taffye Benson Clayton is the inaugural Vice President and Associate Provost for Inclusion and Diversity at Auburn University. Dr. Clayton and her team are tasked with expanding Auburn’s diversity and inclusion footprint within the institution and nationally. Throughout her 20+ career as an executive administrator leading diversity and inclusion efforts at major universities.

Dr. Clayton is known nationally for her presentations on faculty diversity recruitment and retention, integrating diversity and inclusion in higher education institutions, strategically positioning diversity and inclusion, and translating corporate diversity and inclusion promising practices into the higher education context. She is a former Convener for North Carolina Diversity and Inclusion Partners, a statewide network of diversity and inclusion professionals. Dr. Clayton is an Educational Associate with The Conference Board, a board member and membership committee co-chair for the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, and a member of the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity.

Ron Daniels

Ron Daniels
President, Johns Hopkins University

Ron Daniels is the 14th president of Johns Hopkins University, a position he has held since 2009. At Hopkins, he has strengthened interdisciplinary collaboration in research and education; enhanced student access; deepened engagement with the city of Baltimore; and supported economic and social innovation. A law and economics scholar, he is the co-author of eight books and dozens of scholarly articles on the intersections of law, economics, development, and public policy. His writing has also focused on the constraints facing young scientists, the significance of the humanities, and public and private university governance. His most recent book, What Universities Owe Democracy, takes up the challenges facing democracy and argues for the indispensable role that universities play in sustaining democratic societies at this critical moment in history. He previously served as provost at the University of Pennsylvania and dean and James M. Tory Professor of Law at the University of Toronto.

Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill

Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill
Director, Bipartisan Policy Center

Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill is the director of BPC’s Campus Free Expression Project. She works with senior college leaders to provide consultative assistance and expertise in approaches that will support a campus culture that is diverse, inclusive, and open to robust intellectual exchange. Earlier in her career, Merrill served on the faculties of St. John’s College, Annapolis, known for its Great Books curriculum, and the College of William & Mary. She has also taught at Duke University, the University of Calgary, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, and in the college program at Maryland’s only prison for women. 

Her articles and essays have appeared in venues including Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and Perspectives on Political Science. Dr. Merrill earned her B.A. (First Class Honours) from the University of Calgary and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University.