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


Sylvia M. Burwell, president of American University; Taffye Benson Clayton, vice president for inclusion and diversity at Auburn University; and Ronald Daniels, president of Johns Hopkins University will discuss the importance and complexity of building a campus community and culture of free inquiry and speech and inclusivity. Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill, director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Campus Free Expression Project, will moderate the panel. 


Tuesday, January 31, 2023, from 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.


American University, Constitution Hall

3501 Nebraska Ave NWWashington, DC 20016



Sylvia M. Burwell is the President of American University. She 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.

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.

Ron Daniels is the 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.

Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill is the director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’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 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. 

Media Contact/RSVP: For more information about this event, to RSVP and to receive the livestream link, please contact Sandra Rodriguez at or 202-885-5950.

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