$150 – $25,000

Annual ATHENA Roundtable Conference & Philip Merrill Award Gala Dinner

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Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center

1300 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest

Washington, DC 20004

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ATHENA Roundtable Conference

The Current Campus and Its Impact on Society

9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

A continental breakfast will be served at 8:30 a.m.

Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center
The Rotunda, North Tower, 8th Floor
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004


9:30 a.m. 11:00 a.m.

Panel 1: How Colleges Spend Money and Why it Matters

Tuition is rising eight times faster than wage increases. Student debt has surpassed credit card and auto debt. And the U.S. economy is already feeling the effects of the tremendous cost of college and the student loan burden. Qualified students are passing on college because it is too expensive, and immense student debt is forcing young adults to delay important financial decisions such as starting a family or buying a home. The crushing cost of college has rightfully become a central issue in the American conversation. Our panel of higher education leaders and policymakers will cut to the core of the college costs debate with inside knowledge of college finances, identifying wasteful spending as well as possibilities for reform.

MODERATOR: Rick Seltzer, reporter, Inside Higher Ed

PANELISTS: Eugene Hickok, former Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Education; Mark Yudof, President Emeritus, University of California; Heidi Ganahl, regent, University of Colorado; Chap Petersen, State Senator, Virginia, 34th District; and Armand Alacbay, Vice President of Trustee & Government Affairs, ACTA.

11:15 a.m.12:45 p.m.

Panel 2: ROI: Liberal Arts and Success

When colleges put liberal arts programming on the chopping block as an unaffordable luxury, they typically cite career readiness as their priority. But what validity is there in the perceived trade-off between providing students with foundational knowledge and preparing them for the workforce? Our panel will take on the popular narrative that the liberal arts have outlived their usefulness. As the unpredictability of the labor market increases and young people switch jobs and careers far more frequently than their predecessors, students with a narrowly focused, pre-professional education find that the economy is leaving them behind. Employers attest that graduates with the timeless skills that the liberal arts instill are at a premium. Our nation, moreover, needs graduates prepared to be engaged, informed citizens—the lifeblood of a free society.

MODERATOR: Kathleen Parker, columnist, Washington Post

PANELISTS: Louise Mirrer, President and CEO, New-York Historical Society; Pano Kanelos, President, St. John’s College–Annapolis; John Altman, entrepreneur and educator; Jon Parrish Peede, Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities (invited); and Ali Eskandarian, Executive Director, Fund for Academic Renewal, ACTA.

12:45 p.m. 2:00 p.m.

Lunch and Keynote

Lunch will be served after the morning panels and will feature remarks by Samuel Abrams, one of ACTA’s Heroes of Intellectual Freedom, for his courage in taking a principled stand for academic freedom while serving as Professor of Politics at Sarah Lawrence College.

2:00 p.m.3:00 p.m.


Mark Yudof, chair of the Academic Engagement Network, President Emeritus of the University of California, and former chancellor of the University of Texas, and will lead a discussion on the threat that the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement poses to academic freedom.

Merrill Award Gala Dinner

6:30 p.m.

Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center
The Pavilion, 2nd Floor

The ATHENA Roundtable culminates with the presentation of the Philip Merrill Award for Outstanding Contributions to Liberal Arts Education. This year, we honor the extraordinary accomplishments of The Honorable José A. Cabranes. As a highly-respected jurist and a former trustee of Yale, Columbia, and Colgate universities, Judge Cabranes has never failed to take a principled stand for liberty: advancing academic freedom, challenging restrictive speech codes and bias intervention training, and defending the academic tenure and due process rights of professors. His work to republish the C. Vann Woodward Report and exhort Yale to return to its national role of defending the First Amendment has been one of the most powerful defenses of academic freedom in the last decade. A United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit since 1994, his commitment to upholding the law, protecting civil rights, and promoting access to an excellent education has made a profound and far-reaching impact on America’s colleges and universities and, indeed, our society.

Hotel Accommodations

Washington Marriott at Metro Center Hotel
775 12th St NW
Washington, DC 20005

A special rate of $269/night is available for conference attendees. Click here to book online, or call (800) 393-2510 and reference the "ACTA Room Block." All reservations must be made by September 26.


Shuttle service to and from the conference and the dinner will be provided at the hotel. Parking is available at the Ronald Reagan Building.

Sponsorships and Tickets

The annual ATHENA Roundtable provides an opportunity for ACTA’s patrons to support the organization. Contributors may sponsor tables at the Merrill Award dinner and receive special recognition and benefits. Please contact David Doerr at ddoerr@GoACTA.org or call (202) 467-6787 to discuss the available options. We are grateful for your support.

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Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center

1300 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest

Washington, DC 20004

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