THE FREY FOUNDATION DISTINGUISHED VISITING PROFESSORSHIP is one of the highest honors bestowed by the College of Arts and Sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill to distinguished public leaders. Established in 1989, this free public lecture brings to campus renowned speakers from a variety of fields, including government, public policy, international affairs and the arts and sciences.

The Frey Foundation was established in 1974 by Edward J. and Frances Frey of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Their son, alumnus David Gardner Frey, BA ’64, JD ’67, is the former chairman of the foundation and a longtime supporter of UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

 Frey Foundation Distinguished Visiting Professors

A headshot of Maya Lin

At the Intersection of Art, Architecture and the Environment

Maya Lin, artist, architect and designer.

April 12, 2022




Henry Louis Gates, Jr.The Legacy of Reconstruction and the Rise of Jim Crow

Henry Louis Gates Jr., filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic.

February 9, 2021





Larry Sabato

Nov. 3 Election Forecast

Larry Sabato, election analyst.

October 28, 2020





Frey lecturer Kip Thorne discussed his romance with the “warped side of the universe.” (photo by Donn Young)

My Romance with the Warped Side of the Universe: From Black Holes and Wormholes to Time Travel and Gravitational Waves

Kip Thorne, theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate.

February 21, 2019




Nina Totenberg on stage in Memorial Hall in a conversation with UNC School of Law’s Michael Gerhardt.

Nina Totenberg in a conversation on “The Supreme Court and the Presidency” with UNC School of Law’s Michael Gerhardt.

A Conversation with NPR’s Nina Totenberg: The Supreme Court and the Presidency

Nina Totenberg, legal correspondent for National Public Radio.

September 20, 2016




In Defense of a Liberal Education

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Fareed Zakaria

Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, contributing editor at The Atlantic, and Washington Post columnist.

March 8, 2016





Foreign Policy and National Security


Thomas Donilon

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Bart Gellman

Thomas Donilon, adviser to three presidents and national security advisor to Obama.

Barton Gellman, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter (NSA “PRISM” series).

Discussion moderated by Hodding Carter III.
October 30, 2013


Kao-WhiteChanging the World Through Innovation

John Kao, Harvard Business professor and expert on innovation; chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Global Advisory Council on Innovation.

Gary White (UNC ’94), founder and CEO of; Philanthropy Hall of Fame inductee.

Discussion moderated by Chancellor Holden Thorp.
March 4, 2013. Watch a video of the lecture.


China Rising 

What does China’s unprecedented boom mean for the global economy, U.S. foreign policy, humans’ rights, and the environment?

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Orville Schell


James Fallows

James Fallows, national correspondent, The Atlantic.

Orville Schell, director of the Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations.

April 9, 2012



Robin Wright

Rock the Casbah

Rage & Rebellion Across the Islamic World

Robin Wright, international correspondent and author.

Discussion moderated by Hodding Carter III.

Nov. 14, 2011


Mid-Term State of the Union 


Mark Shields


William Kristol

Mark Shields, commentator, PBS NewsHour.

William Kristol, founder and editor of the Weekly Standard.

Discussion moderated by Hodding Carter III.

Oct. 5, 2010


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James Hansen

Global Climate Change

What Must We Do Now?

James Hansen, director of Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NASA.

Feb. 1, 2010


Presidential Campaign ’08

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E.J. Dionne

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David Brooks

David Brooks, op-ed columnist, The New York Times.

E.J. Dionne, columnist, The Washington Post.

Sept. 9, 2008




E.L. Doctorow

Notes on the History of Fiction

E.L. Doctorow, acclaimed author and professor of English and American letters at New York University.

March 27, 2008

 A Conversation with Ted Turner

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Ted Turner and Pat Mitchell

Ted Turner, pioneering founder of CNN, chairman of Turner Broadcasting System.

Discussion moderated by Pat Mitchell, former president of PBS.

Nov. 19, 2007





Harry Belafonte

The Importance of the Arts in America

Harry Belafonte, award-winning actor, singer, producer and humanitarian.

Sept. 24, 2007


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Fernando Henrique Cardoso

Globalization and Development

The Brazilian Experience

Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil.

March 26, 2007



Richard Haas

The Opportunity

America’s Movement to Alter History’s Course

Richard Haas, president of the Council of Foreign Relations.

Oct. 23, 2006



Frank Rich

Art, Culture and Politics

Frank Rich, op-ed columnist, The New York Times.

March 6, 2006




Christine Todd Whitman

It’s My Party, Too

The Battle for the Heart of the GOP and the Future of America

Christine Todd Whitman, former EPA administrator and former governor of New Jersey.

Feb. 13, 2006


David Gergen

Eyewitness to Power

Leadership in America

David Gergen, editor-at-large, U.S. News & World Report, presidential adviser.

March 3, 2005


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Alice Walker


An Evening with Alice Walker

Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple.

April 14, 2004



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Joan Weimer

Adapting Works for the Stage

Joan Weimer, playwright and author of Back Talk.

March 18, 2004



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Mike Reiss, Bart Simpson

A History of The Simpsons

Mike Reiss, Emmy-winning producer of The Simpsons.

Feb. 3, 2004


China: Ally or Adversary?

How National Security Policy is REALLY Made in Washington

The Origin of the War on Terrorism

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Dennis Blair

(Three lectures)

Dennis Blair, retired commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, former Rhodes Scholar.




Sharon Lawrence

Five Desperate Hours

(Film screening and discussion)

Sharon Lawrence (UNC ’83), actress.

Dec. 3, 2003



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Laszlo Marton, artistic director of Vigszinhaz Theatre in Budapest, Hungary.

(Directed the Chekhov play for PlayMakers Repertory Company; taught classes in the Professional Training Program, Department of Dramatic Art)

Fall 2002


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Philip Kitcher

Lectures and Seminars on Science and Religion

Philip Kitcher, distinguished thinker and author on the philosophy of science.

Fall 2001

Month-Long Residency

R.J. Johnston, professor of geography at the University of Bristol, U.K.; one of the top five professional geographers in the world.

April 2001

Central and Eastern Europe

Ten Years After the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Jiri Dienstbier, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister, Czechoslovakia.

Oct. 14-15, 1999

In the Jaws of Life

The Story of a Book and a Film in Times of Peace and War

Dubravka Ugresic, novelist, literary critic and political dissident in exile from Croatia.

Oct. 30, 1998

Island Connections

Directions in Caribbean Literature

(Two lectures)

Derek Walcott, winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature; poetry professor, Boston University and University of Essex, U.K.

April 2-8, 1998

Questions of Discipline

Cultural Studies, Visual Studies and Art History

Janet Wolff, professor of art history and cultural studies, University of Rochester.

April 3, 1997

Rise and Decline of Chinese Communism

(Undergraduate history course)

Sidney Rittenberg (UNC ’41), journalist who stayed in China after serving there in the U.S. military during World War II; twice sentenced to solitary confinement (for a total of 16 years) before being returning to the United States.

January – December 1994