February 7, 2011

Vol. 26 , No. 08   

Afghanistan: My Personal View

Nangy Ghafarshad has just returned to Claremont after 13 months of service as a senior cultural advisor to the Department of Defense in Afghanistan. It is a privilege to welcome him to the Athenaeum where he will speak about the situation in Afghanistan from a uniquely personal perspective and give a slide presentation of photos taken during this past year.
Everyone in Claremont knows Walter’s Restaurant — landmark restaurant and favorite “town and gown” gathering place for more than three decades. However, not everyone may know Nangy Ghafarshad and his wife Fahima, the distinguished proprietors of Walter’s.

Nangy Ghafarshad first arrived in the U.S. in 1960 as an officer in the Royal Afghan Air Force for pilot training with the USAF. He returned to Afghanistan as a rated fighter pilot and started flying Soviet made aircraft for the Afghan Air Force. He was subsequently sent to the USSR in l965 to train in MIG-21 advanced fighter aircraft purchased by the Afghan Air Force, and where he spent most of a year. Returning to the U.S. in 1968 for leadership training, he resigned his commission and decided to stay in Southern California.

In 1973 Nangy bought a small coffee shop in Claremont village, which had only 40 seats at the time, but has grown to a first-class restaurant that can seat 400 guests. While running the restaurant with the help of his wife, Fahima, he worked as a corporate pilot for the law offices of Herbert Hafif. He also flew Mrs. Rosalind Carter around California when Mr. Carter ran for president.

Much respected and a generous members of the Claremont community, Nangy and Fahima have supported numerous charitable organizations, including international orphan care, an Afghan children’s fund, Project Sister, House of Ruth, and also have catered and provided food at cost for more than fifty community fund raising events.

Arrested Development

Elizabeth Cauffman is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Social Behavior at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Cauffman’s research explores how developmental psychology can be applied to the legal system. Her research findings on maturity of judgment were part of the American Psychological Association’s amicus briefs to the Supreme Court in Roper v. Simmons (in which the Court disallowed capital punishment for crimes committed by juveniles), and in Graham v. Florida (in which the Court disallowed the sentencing of juvenile offenders to life in prison without the possibility of parole for cases not involving homicide). She is currently a member of the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Initiative and is launching a multi-million dollar study entitled, “Crossroads” which will examine the impact of different ways of processing juvenile offenders in the legal system.

Professor Cauffman's research examines adolescent development in the context of juvenile justice policy and practice. Specifically, her research examines the developmental trajectories that lead to delinquency, the treatment needs of youthful offenders, and the legal implications of "mature judgment" (which includes interrelated concepts such as competence, amenability, and accountability). Please join us for her talk “Arrested Development”, in which she will describe the findings of her research.

The Coming Revolution in the Muslim World: Economics vs. Extremism

Featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal; quoted by Senator John Kerry on the floor of the U.S. Senate; and described as a “national resource” by Richard Haass, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, Vali Nasr is one of America’s leading experts on the Middle East and the Islamic world. Internationally renowned, he has influenced critical public debates and policy decisions on both sides of the Atlantic, and advised presidents, kings, prime ministers, and business leaders.

Nasr was Senior Advisor to U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and is currently Professor of International Politics at the world-renowned Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University. He has previously served as an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and Senior Fellow at the Belfar Center of the Kennedy school of Government at Harvard University.

Nasr is the author of The Rise of Islamic Capitalism: Why the New Muslim Middle Class is Key to Defeating Extremism (2010); The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future (2006); and co-author of Democracy in Iran: History and the Quest for Liberty (2009); as well as numerous articles in academic journals and encyclopedias. His works have been translated into Arabic, French, German, Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian, Italian, Turkish, Persian, Chinese, Hindi, and Urdu. He is the recipient of numerous awards, and was a Carnegie Scholar for 2006.

Nasr has written for the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, The New Republic, Newsweek, Time, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, and has provided frequent expert commentary to CNN, BBC, National Public Radio, Public Radio International, Newshour with Jim Lehrer, Frontline, ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, and has been a guest on the Charlie Rose Show, GPS with Fareed Zakaria, Meet the Press, Larry King Live, the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, and Real Time with Bill Maher. His interviews have appeared in leading media outlets in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Born in Tehran, Nasr now resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife and three children.

Vali Nasr’s lecture at the Athenaeum is made possible through the generosity of CMC alumnus, L.J. Kutten ’74, the Athenaeum, the Office of the President at CMC, the religous studies department, and the Arabic Studies program.

Celebrating the Lunar New Year: The Year of the Rabbit

Karen Han is a world-famous musician and virtuoso on the Erhu, a two-stringed classical Chinese musical instrument similar to the violin and viola. Her performance at the Athenaeum is to celebrate the Lunar New Year — the Year of the Rabbit.

Cecelia Yu will accompany Ms. Han as well as do a guest solo performance on Pipa for the concert.

Ms. Han attended the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where she was the youngest person to receive an M.A. with honors in the Performing Arts. She has performed for Chinese president Jiang Zemin, former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and other world leaders.

She has performed Erhu concertos with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Paris Opera Orchestra, the Pacific Orchestra and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, among other leading world orchestras. She has also performed for the soundtracks of over 100 films and television series, including The Hurt Locker (2008), Pirates of the Caribbean (2003-2007), Kung Fu Panda (2008) and Star Trek. She has published two solo albums and over thirty collaborations.

The Year of the Rabbit is, according to Chinese tradition, predicted to be a calm and consistent year, but lucky and creative as well.

Karen Han's husband is Paul Ottosson, an Oscar-winning sound supervisor and producer. He will be present at the performance – along with one of his Oscar awards! The meal will be a special menu for the Lunar New Year.

Disaster Preparedness and Response: The Role of the National Library of Medicine

Steven J. Phillips, M.D. is the Director, Specialized Information Services, and Associate Director, National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Health & Human Services. He is leading the effort to establish a Disaster Information Management Research Center at the NLM. This Center, totally devoted to disaster informatics, is the first of its kind in the world. In his Athenaeum presentation Phillips will discuss the efforts of his Center to be prepared for pandemics, disasters, as well as terrorist initiated biological events.

Dr. Phillips is a graduate of Hobart College and Tufts Medical School. He is board certified both in general and thoracic surgery. He co-founded the Iowa Heart Center that has grown to 58 physicians all specializing in cardiovascular disease. In 1974 he pioneered techniques for emergency coronary bypass surgery for evolving heart attacks implanted the first artificial heart in Iowa, performed the first heart transplant in central Iowa, and invented the technology for percutaneous cardiopulmonary bypass. He has been the principle investigator for numerous research projects.

Phillips was a member of the Board of Regents of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1993-97 and the 1997 Board Chair. From 1999-2001 He served as the full time Deputy to the Director for Research and Education at the NLM, NIH.

Dr. Phillips served twice in Vietnam and retired from the USAR as a LTC. in 1993. He is a life member of the 101st. Airborne Association and an Associate Life member of the UDT/SEAL Association. He has approximately 125 medical publications and has been granted 6 patents.

An Evening with the Author

The publication of Charles Baxter’s Gryphon: New and Selected Stories (2011) is a major event in contemporary fiction. Bringing together thirty years of work, including seven previously uncollected stories, this dazzling book shows the development of one of the major practitioners of the short story form from his brilliant early stories to the consummate achievements of his most recent work. As Alice Munro wrote on reading his fiction, “Charles Baxter’s stories have reminded me of how broad and deep and shining a story can be, and I am grateful.”
With more than a dozen critically acclaimed publications to his credit, Charles Baxter has built a name for himself as one of the great voices of American literature. Baxter’s best known work is The Feast of Love: A Novel (2001), a novel that was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2001 and adapted for the screen in 2007 in a film starring Morgan Freeman and Greg Kinnear. Baxter’s most recent novel is The Soul Thief, published in 2008, a generically indefinable mixture of the comedy-of-manners and the metaphysical thriller, with a long penultimate sequence set in Southern California.
In addition to four other novels, Baxter is the author of four previous short story collections, three poetry collections and two books of essays, as well as numerous edited anthologies. He has received honors ranging from the Guggenheim Fellowship to the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature.

Also a beloved teacher who has inspired generations of young writers, Baxter taught for many years at Wayne State University and the University of Michigan before moving in 2003 to the University of Minnesota, where he currently holds the Edelstein-Keller professorship and teaches in the MFA program in creative writing.

Riding the Leadership Wave: Embracing Controversy

Gloria Feldt is a nationally renowned activist and author, whose passion for social justice has propelled her life’s work. Her new book, No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think about Power, was published by Seal Press in October 2010. It reveals why women are stuck at 18% of top leadership roles and, through both inspirational stories and practical tools, shows how women can redefine power, lead themselves with intention, and reach parity from the boardroom to the bedroom for good — their own and society’s.

Feldt’s previous books include the New York Times bestseller Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles (2007), co-authored with actress Kathleen Turner, Behind Every Choice Is a Story (2003), and The War on Choice: The Right-Wing Attack on Women's Rights and How to Fight Back (2004).

People Magazine calls Feldt “the voice of experience.” A teen mother from rural Texas, Feldt served as president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the nation’s largest reproductive health and advocacy organization, from 1996-2005. Feldt’s passion for bettering women’s lives remains her driving force as an independent commentator on women’s issues, politics, media, and leadership. Her commentary has been featured in national publications such as the New York Times, the Daily Beast, and Salon. ,em>Glamour honored her as Woman of the Year and Vanity Fair named her to its Top 200 Women Leaders, Legends, and Trailblazers. Feldt teaches “Women, Power, and Leadership” at Arizona State University and serves on the board of the Women’s Media Center.

The Kravis Leadership Institute, the Berger Institute for Work, Family and Children, and the Writing Center at CMC have joined forces with the Athenaeum to bring Gloria Feldt to campus. Ms. Feldt will sign books in the Athenaeum lobby following her talk.

Of Ebony Embers: Vignettes of the Harlem Renaissance
MICHAEL PAROLA, percussion

Of Ebony Embers is a music theatre work featuring a solo actor and chamber music trio. This piece explores the life and times of African Americans who helped shape the Harlem Renaissance. Of Ebony Embers connects the audience to the lives and works of three iconic poets – Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and Claude McKay – as seen through the eyes of muralist Aaron Douglass. Music in the show ranges from jazz greats Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, Billy Strayhorn, Thelonius Monk, and Charles Mingus to concert music composers Jeffrey Mumford and George Walker.

Tonight we are joined by actor, Chris White and the Core Ensemble – percussionist Michael Parola, pianist Hsiao-Ling, and cellist Tahirah Whittington.

The Core Ensemble, formed in 1993, has travelled throughout the United States and across the world. Broadening the definition of chamber music, the ensemble has been the catalyst in the creation of several chamber music theatre works weaving narrative and theatre into the chamber music experience. The Boston Globe described the Core as “often formidable, always intelligent, ultimately compelling.”

This performance promises to be a fascinating and unique glimpse of the Harlem Renaissance through musical theatre.


  • It is the policy of the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum that no lecture, appearance or performance by any speaker or performer at the Athenaeum is to be videotaped, audiotaped, or otherwise recorded and/or broadcast without the prior written permission of the relevant speaker, performer, or other authorized owner of the intellectual property rights to the event.

  • Anyone requesting permission to record an event is required to submit an “Event Recording Request Form” to Bonnie Snortum, the Director of the Athenaeum, at least 48 hours in advance of the relevant event.

  • It is understood that the speaker, the performer, the Athenaeum, and any other event sponsor, as appropriate, reserve all intellectual property rights for each Athenaeum event.

  • If you have any questions regarding this policy, please contact Bonnie Snortum at bsnortum@cmc.edu or at (909) 607-4180.


  • The Athenaeum serves as a gathering place where ideas, inquiry, and fellowship bring students, faculty, staff, other scholars, and nationally prominent speakers together.

  • Attendance at any event may be limited to persons associated with CMC, to the people who signed up for the dinner, or to the maximum number of people allowed by fire regulations.

  • On some occasions the speaker may address the group in another forum or the College may set up a video feed to handle an overflow crowd. All programs at the Athenaeum are filmed. Individuals attending should understand that their image might appear on the videotape.

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  • Time allowing, there will be a period set aside for questions. Students will have priority during this portion of the program.

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