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Calbright College CEO to deliver Frank Rhodes lecture Dec. 3

Ajita Talwalker Menon's talk on designing higher education for equity is part of a reimagined lecture series at ASU

Ajita Talwalker Menon

Ajita Talwalker Menon, president and CEO of Calbright College, will deliver the Frank Rhodes lecture on Dec. 3.

November 17, 2020

Arizona State University's Frank Rhodes Lecture Series launched in 2010 with the goal to question the status quo of higher education by bringing individuals who are thought-provoking and visionary thinkers to speak with the ASU community.

Since its conception, there have been more than a dozen guest lecturers, or Frank Rhodes Scholars. At the end of 2019, President Michael Crow moved the Frank Rhodes Lecture Series (FLRS) into the University Design Institute portfolio, which is led by Minu Ipe, managing director and vice chair. Charged with elevating the lecture series within the ASU community and strengthening its strategy, Ipe and her team have spent the last eight months redesigning the program, building a strategy to advance the series and ensure its sustainability.

With a slightly tweaked mission, FRLS now aims to challenge the current constructs of higher education and disrupt the educational and cultural landscape by bringing in thought-provoking leaders who can help redefine the space by sharing their visionary ideas and outlook. For more information on the program, please visit the newly redesigned FRLS website.

The FRLS' fall 2020 lecture, to be held virtually Dec. 3, will feature Ajita Talwalker Menon, president and CEO of Calbright College. Her job is to lead the college to help underserved Californians gain greater economic mobility and to provide skilled talent for employers. Menon has dedicated her career to supporting government agencies, higher education institutions and systems, and nonprofit organizations to drive better and more equitable outcomes in higher education and workforce training. 

Prior to relocating to California, she served in the Obama administration as special assistant to the president for higher education policy at the White House Domestic Policy Council, where she led efforts to expand college opportunity, affordability, innovation and completion, ensuring more Americans could access the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the nation’s growing economy. She has also held senior roles in the federal government at the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. House of Representatives, in addition to her more recent work as senior adviser to the chancellor of the California Community Colleges.

In her "Designing for Equity: Building Innovative Systems for Lifelong Learning" virtual lecture, Menon will address the idea that there is a rising tide of dialogue on the need for greater equity in the United States and that higher education has been long touted as a great equalizer. She will explore how in this moment, we have the opportunity to confront where real gaps exist in current higher education opportunities and outcomes, and to redesign institutions of higher education in ways that prioritize equity.

With a special introduction by Crow and moderated by Ipe, this lecture will run from 12:30 to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3. All of the ASU community is invited to attend. To attend, simply register at: Find out more information on ASU Events.

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