Will Brain Food end with alumni?

NEW ORLEANS (February 15, 2019) – After five years of bringing a variety of speakers to campus from celebrities to activists to journalists, Dillard President Walter Kimbrough said he is re-evaluating his lecture series, “Brain Food.”

In the meantime, in commemoration of the university’s 150th anniversary, the speakers will be Dillard alumni.

Kimbrough said he’s not sure whether the series – started when he arrived to lead Dillard in 2012 – will stop completely, but he is re-evaluating the series, saying, “I don’t think New Orleans is interested in it.”

He noted that when he first started, Brain Food was the first and only lecture series in the Greater New Orleans area, so Dillard students weren’t the only ones invested in the guests and the topics. Kimbrough has been featured in local and national media outlets because of his lecture series.

However, as time went on, Kimbrough said, the popularity of Brain Food has apparently decreased, with students coming for celebrities, extra credit or convocation credit.

“The ones people skip over are generally the best ones; these guests drop gems, provide students with internship opportunities and may even ask students’ to work on projects.”

Kimbrough is bringing the following alumni:

  • Dr. Nita Landry (Class of 2003, biology), “The Doctors” on CBS: Thursday, Feb. 21.
  • Lisa Frazier-Paige (Class of 1984, mass communication), journalist and New York Times best-selling author: Tuesday, March 12.
  • Jericho Brown (Class of 1998, English), award-winning poet: Wednesday, Sept. 25.
  • Michael Jones (Class of 1982, English), law partner in Kirkland & Ellis: Thursday, Nov. 7.

The central points of these conversations will be what they did at Dillard, how Dillard assisted in helping them to maneuver in the real world and what they have done after Dillard.

Dillard typically had a colloquia series of speakers, but the schedule was sometimes erratic. With the arrival of Brain Food in since 2012, about 40 speakers have appeared in Georges Auditorium or Lawless Chapel in just the past three years alone. Many were authors of new books, but others ranged from actors and other entertainment celebrities to social justice activists, journalists and political pundits.