Menard Family Distinguished Speaker Series

Bringing world thought leaders to NDSU.

Menard Family Distinguished Speaker Series

The Menard Family Distinguished Speaker Series hosts world thought leaders to share their ideas with the NDSU community on big questions that explore ways to improve the human condition and create economic opportunity. The Distinguished Speaker Series is made possible thanks to a generous gift by the Menard family. 

These events are free and open to the public. We encourage all to attend and take advantage of this unique opportunity to engage with renowned speakers. 

A note for fall 2021: Our distinguished speakers will be joining us virtually this semester. Presentations will be broadcast on Zoom and live at Richard H. Barry Hall. We invite you to join us for an in-person audience experience and reception in the Louise S. Barry Auditorium

Upcoming Speakers

Jason Riley
February 23 | 3:00-4:30 p.m. Central

Jason Riley is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, where he has published opinion pieces for more than 20 years. Topics include politics, economics, education, immigration, social inequality, and race. He has published several books, including Let Them In, which argues for a more free-market oriented U.S. immigration system; Please Stop Helping Us, which is about government efforts to help the black underclass; and False Black Power?, an assessment of why black political success has not translated into more economic advancement. His most recent book, Maverick, is a biography of the iconic economist and social theorist Thomas Sowell. Riley is also a frequent public speaker and provides commentary for television and radio news outlets. Register on Zoom.

Liz Ann Sonders
April 7 | 3:00-4:00 p.m. Central | Keynote for Financial Markets Day

As Managing Director and Chief Investment Strategist at Charles Schwab, Liz Ann Sonders has a range of investment strategy responsibilities, from market and economic analysis to investor education, all focused on the individual investor. A keynote speaker at numerous industry conferences, Liz Ann is regularly quoted in financial publications including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Barron’s, and the Financial Times, and she appears as a regular guest on news programs. Liz Ann has been named “Best Market Strategist” by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and one of SmartMoney magazine’s “Power 30.” Barron’s has named her to its “100 Most Influential Women in Finance” list and Investment Advisor has included her on the “IA 25,” its list of the 25 most important people in and around the financial advisory profession. Register on Zoom.

Vernon Smith
May 2022 - details to be announced

Dr. Vernon L. Smith was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002 for his groundbreaking work in experimental economics. He is professor of economics at Chapman University's Argyros School of Business and Economics and the School of Law. He has authored or co-authored more than 350 articles and books on capital theory, finance, natural resource economics, and experimental economics. He has served as a consultant on the privatization of electric power in Australia and New Zealand and participated in numerous private and public discussions of energy deregulation in the United States. He is a distinguished fellow of the American Economic Association and has severed on the board of editors for several prominent journals and received many distinguished awards. He received his Ph.D. in economics at Harvard University. 

Recent Speakers

Emily Oster

Emily Oster is professor of economics at Brown University and author of three best-selling books on pregnancy and parenting: Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong - and What You Really Need to KnowCribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool, and The Family Firm: A Data-Driven Guide to Better Decision Making in the Early School Years. Her academic work focuses on health economics and statistical methods. In addition, she writes the newsletter ParentData and serves as executive director for the COVID-19 School Data Hub. 


Alice Marie Johnson

Alice Marie Johnson is a formal federal inmate who brings a passionate and personal perspective to the criminal justice reform movement. Her story received world-wide attention when Kim Kardashian West advocated for her release from a mandatory life sentence without parole. After over 21 years in federal prison for her first and only conviction in a nonviolent drug case, President Donald Trump granted her clemency in 2018 and a full pardon in 2020. She is the founder and CEO of the Taking Action for Good Foundation and author of the best-selling memoir After Life: My Journey from Incarceration to Freedom


Tyler VanderWeele

Tyler VanderWeele is the director of the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University's Institute for Quantitative Social Science. He holds degrees from the University of Oxford, University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University in mathematics, philosophy, theology, finance and applied economics, and biostatistics. His research spans psychiatric and social epidemiology; the science of happiness and flourishing; and the study of religion and health. He has published over 300 papers in peer-reviewed journals and is the author of three books. 




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