Free expression, open discourse, and ongoing intellectual challenge are a necessary foundation for an empowering education and a research environment that fosters creativity and originality. Students deserve the opportunity to develop the intellectual skills and habits of mind derived from such an education in order to confront the complex challenges they will face throughout their professional and personal lives. Failing to provide an education of deep intellectual challenge supported by an environment of free expression is selling students short and would fail to live up to our highest aspirations as educators. Please register via Eventbrite to RSVP for this event. 

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About the American National Character Project

The Benson Center promotes critical reflection on the distinctive traditions and political perspectives that characterize Western civilization. It encourages residents of Colorado and the United States to more fully understand and appreciate their past, their future and a free and creative American society within an international environment. Conservative Thought and Policy Guest Speakers bring a unique perspective as guests of the Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy program. This year’s series, the “American National Character Project” expands on the Benson Center’s 2019-20 theme, American Identities.

The Founding generation recognized the importance of cultivating a national character, by which they meant the formation of “a people” dedicated to the principles of the American Revolution and the great experiment in self-government. Today, Americans are fragmented, disunited and unclear about what, if anything, they hold in common. The American National Character Project seeks to explore and identify principles and purposes that Americans do or might in the future share, and to discover how to provide a way forward for republican self-governance in America.

About the Speaker

On July 1, 2006, Robert J. Zimmer became the 13th President of the University of Chicago. Prior to his appointment as President, Zimmer was a University of Chicago faculty member and administrator for more than two decades specializing in the mathematical fields of geometry, particularly ergodic theory, Lie groups, and differential geometry. As a University of Chicago administrator, Zimmer served as Chairman of the Mathematics Department, Deputy Provost, and Vice President for Research and for Argonne National Laboratory. He also served as Provost at Brown University from 2002-2006, returning to Chicago in 2006 to become President of the University.

As President of the University, he serves as Chair of the Board of Governors of Argonne National Laboratory; Chair of the Board of Directors of Fermi Research Alliance LLC, the operator of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory; and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Marine Biological Laboratory. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was a member of the National Science Board, the governing body of the National Science Foundation, from 2011 to 2016 and also served on the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science from 2008 to 2010.

President Zimmer is the author of three books, Ergodic Theory and Semisimple Groups (1984), Essential Results of Functional Analysis (1990), and Ergodic Theory, Groups, and Geometry (2008); and more than 80 mathematical research articles. He served on the Board of Mathematical Sciences of the National Research Council from 1992 to 1995, and was on the executive committee from 1993 to 1995. Zimmer held the title of Max Mason Distinguished Service Professor of Mathematics at Chicago before leaving for Brown, where he was the Ford Foundation Professor of Mathematics in addition to being Provost.

He earned his A.B., summa cum laude, from Brandeis University in 1968 and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard University in 1975, and joined the Chicago faculty as an L.E. Dickson Instructor of Mathematics in 1977. He was also on the faculty of the U.S. Naval Academy from 1975 to 1977 and has held visiting positions at Harvard University and at institutions in Israel, France, Australia, Switzerland, and Italy.

President Zimmer has honorary degrees from Tsinghua University and Colby College. In 2017 he was given the Philip Merrill Award for Outstanding Contributions to Liberal Arts Education by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA). He is a frequent commentator on free expression and academic freedom.