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Mary Frances Berry named 2015 Rhodes Chair at ASU honors college

Mary Frances Berry
January 14, 2015

Mary Frances Berry, former chairperson of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, has been named the 2015 John J. Rhodes Chair in Public Policy and American Institutions at Barrett, the Honors College, at Arizona State University.

As such, Berry will deliver the 2015 John J. Rhodes Lecture in Public Policy, titled “Achieving Justice & Opportunity in the 21st Century: Now is the Time.” The lecture is scheduled for 7 p.m., Feb. 25 at the Galvin Playhouse on the ASU Tempe campus.

Admission is free and open to the public, however, tickets are required. For tickets and information visit

For over four decades, Berry has been one of the most recognized and respected voices in our nation’s civil rights, gender equity and social justice movements. While serving as chairperson of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, she led the charge for equal rights and liberties for all Americans over the course of four presidential administrations.

During her tenure as chairperson, the commission issued a number of significant reports, including those focusing on the 2000 Florida presidential elections, police practices in New York City, environmental justice, percentage plans and affirmative action, church burnings and conditions on Indian reservations.

She is the author of several books, including "Power of Words: The Stories behind Barack Obama’s Speeches, from the State House to the White House"; "And Justice for All: The United States Commission on Civil Rights and the Continuing Struggle for Freedom in America"; and "My Face is Black is True: Callie House and the Struggle for Ex-Slave Reparations."

A trailblazer for women and African Americans alike, she was the first woman to head a major research university, serving as chancellor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She currently is the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of History at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She holds doctorate and jruis doctorate degrees from University of Michigan.

The John J. Rhodes Chair in Public Policy and American Institutions in Barrett, the Honors College, at Arizona State University celebrates the public service career of one of Arizona’s and the nation’s most distinguished leaders, Congressman John J. Rhodes. The Rhodes Chair delivers the Rhodes Lecture and is dedicated to deepening theoretical and practical understanding of the many voices and forces that influence public policy. The chair honors the values of personal integrity, fiscal responsibility, respect for persons and international farsightedness exemplified in the Hon. John J. Rhodes’ career.