Andrew Delbanco, the Mendelson Family Chair of American Studies and Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, will address Washington and Lee University’s Founders’ Day / ODK Convocation on Friday, Jan. 18, at 11:45 a.m. in Lee Chapel.
The title of Delbanco’s talk, which is free and open to the public, is “What is College For?”
Delbanco is the author of the 2012 book “College: What it Was, Is and Should Be” (Princeton University Press) and will address some of the issues he has raised in his convocation address.
“America’s colleges are indispensable for the education of democratic citizens,” said Delbanco in describing his talk. “In the face of growing public skepticism about the cost and value of higher education, America’s colleges — of which Washington and Lee is a leader with a distinguished history — must move into the future while preserving the best traditions of their past.”
Among Delbanco's other book are “The Abolitionist Imagination” (Harvard University Press, 2012) and “Melville: His World and Work” (2005), which was published in the United States and Britain, and has been translated into German and Spanish.
“Melville” was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Biography and appeared on the Best Books lists in the Washington Post, the Independent (London), the Dallas Morning News and TLS. It was awarded the Lionel Trilling Award by Columbia University.
Other books include “The Death of Satan” (1995), “Required Reading: Why Our American Classics Matter Now” (1997) and “The Real American Dream” (1999), all of which were named notable books by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.
Delbanco’s essays appear regularly in The New York Review of Books, New Republic, The New York Times Magazine and other journals, on topics ranging from American literary and religious history to contemporary issues in higher education.
Delbanco was awarded the 2011 National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama “for his writing that spans the literature of Melville and Emerson to contemporary issues in higher education.” In 2003, he was named New York State Scholar of the Year by the New York Council for the Humanities. In 2001, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and named by Time Magazine as America’s Best Social Critic.
He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment for the Humanities and is a trustee of the Library of America and the Teagle Foundation. Delbanco received his A.B. and Ph.D. from Harvard University.
As part of the annual convocation, Washington and Lee's Alpha Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society, will initiate, or "tap," new members among the undergraduate and law school student bodies as well as several honorary members. ODK was founded at W&L on Dec. 3, 1914, by 15 student and faculty leaders. The organization encourages superior scholarship, leadership and exemplary character, recognizing achievement in five areas: scholarship; athletics; campus/community service, social/religious activities and campus government; journalism, speech and the mass media; and creative and performing arts.