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President's Speaker Series

President's Speaker Series

The President's Speaker Series welcomes distinguished scholars and thought leaders representing diverse points of view to examine topics and issues facing our communities and the world today. Driven by a desire to connect deeply with our community and inspire meaningful dialogue, the series provides opportunities to cultivate an engaged and impassioned collective through civil discourse.

Recent Event

President Speaker Series Vaccine Panel

Vaccines: Where Are We and Where Are We Going?

Monday, March 29, 2021
5–7 PM PDT
Via Zoom

In light of the current global and national focus on the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the President’s Speaker Series welcomes a panel of leading medical, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology experts who will explore “Vaccines: Where Are We and Where Are We Going?” which will take place via Zoom. 

The engaging panel discussion will feature Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, Stephen M. Hahn, former commissioner of food and drugs at the US Food and Drug Administration, and Jonathan B. Perlin, president of the Clinical Services Group and chief medical officer of HCA Healthcare, in conversation about the current state of the vaccines. Dee Anna Smith (’86), CEO of Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare, and chair of the Pepperdine Board of Regents, will moderate the discussion. 



About the Speakers

Stephane Bancel

Stéphane Bancel

Stéphane Bancel has served as Moderna's chief executive officer since October 2011 and as a member of its board of directors since March 2011. Before joining Moderna, Bancel served for five years as chief executive officer of the French diagnostics company bioMérieux SA. From 2000 to 2006, he held several positions at the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Company, including as managing director, Belgium and as executive director, global manufacturing strategy and supply chain. Prior to joining Eli Lilly, Bancel served as Asia-Pacific sales and marketing director for bioMérieux.

Bancel is currently a member of the board of directors of Qiagen N.V. and Indigo, AG. He is also a venture partner at Flagship Pioneering and a trustee of the Museum of Science in Boston. Bancel holds a master of engineering from École Centrale Paris, a master of science in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Stephen M Hahn

Stephen M. Hahn

Stephen M. Hahn is a physician, scientist, and healthcare leader with an extensive background in patient care, academic research, and executive leadership. He served as the 24th commissioner of food and drugs at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 2019 to January 2021.

Prior to joining the FDA, Hahn served as the chief medical executive at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, a facility that cares for more than 140,000 patients a year. In this role, he was responsible for day-to-day management of the institution, including business, clinical, and faculty matters. Under his purview was one of the largest clinical trial groups in the country. Before joining MD Anderson, he served as chair of the radiation oncology department at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine from 2005 to 2014.

A dedicated clinician, Hahn trained in both medical oncology and radiation oncology. He specializes in treating both lung cancer and sarcoma. Throughout his oncology career, he authored more than 220 peer-reviewed original research articles. His research has focused on the molecular causes of the tumor microenvironment, particularly the study of chemical signals that go awry (known as aberrant signal transduction pathways), and the evaluation of proton therapy as a means of improving the effectiveness of radiation therapy. His experience in medical product development and clinical trials spans drugs, biologics, medical devices, and diagnostics.

Hahn earned the rank of commander in the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps while at the National Institute of Health's National Cancer Institute, where he also completed a fellowship in medical oncology and a residency in radiation oncology. He also completed a residency in internal medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. He graduated from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Pennsylvania and received his bachelor's degree in biology from Rice University in Texas.

Jonathan B. Perlin

Jonathan B. Perlin

Jonathan B. Perlin is president of the clinical services group and chief medical officer of Nashville, Tennessee-based HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services. Perlin oversees the organization's team of nationally recognized clinical leaders, data scientists, researchers, and improvement experts who drive HCA Healthcare's clinical excellence agenda. The many advancements under this leadership include the company's development of Sepsis Prediction and Optimization of Therapy, or SPOT, an algorithm-driven sepsis early warning technology that received the prestigious 2019 John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award.

Before joining HCA Healthcare in 2006, Perlin led the nation's largest integrated health system as under secretary for health in the US Department of Veterans Affairs. In this role he directed care to more than six million patients annually by more than 250,000 healthcare professionals at 1,400 sites, including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, counseling centers, and other facilities, with an operating and capital budget of nearly $40 billion.

Perlin serves as chair of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs' Special Medical Advisory Group. He is on the board of Meharry Medical College and is chair of the National Quality Forum. In 2009, he was appointed as the inaugural chair of the US Department of Health and Human Services Health IT Standards Committee. He has received numerous awards including the Founders Medal from the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, and is one of the few honorary members of the Special Forces Association and Green Berets.

Perlin is a master of the American College of Physicians and fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics. He has a master of science in health administration and received his PhD in pharmacology (molecular neurobiology) with his MD as part of the Physician Scientist Training Program at the Medical College of Virginia of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Dee Anna Smith

Dee Anna Smith ('86)

Dee Anna Smith is the chief executive officer of Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare. Appointed as CEO in 2006, Smith is responsible for leading the organization's overall mission and vision to make a global impact on cancer research and care. Under her leadership, Sarah Cannon has expanded its ability to bring world-class cancer care closer to home for hundreds of thousands of people facing cancer across the United States and the United Kingdom. Smith began her tenure with Sarah Cannon Research Institute in 2005, where she served as chief information officer and president of its Research Services division.

Before joining Sarah Cannon, Smith founded two companies focused on clinical trial services: SiteWorks Solutions, which was acquired by Oracle; and Summit Research Solutions, which was acquired by HCA Healthcare to as part of Sarah Cannon's research platform. She began her career as an auditor and certified public accountant with KPMG, one of the world's largest accounting firms.

Smith has received numerous recognitions. Just last month she was named by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business as one its 2021 Influential Leaders. She received the Seaver College Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2019 and in 2017 was recognized by the Nashville-based Operation Andrew as a Rodgers Award recipient for making an impact on lives and communities in middle Tennessee and beyond.

Smith is the chair of the Pepperdine University Board of Regents, is a member of the board of directors for the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, and is a member of the board of directors of the Nashville Health Care Council. She is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Smith earned her bachelor's degree in accounting from Pepperdine University.


Suggest a Speaker or Topic

The Pepperdine community is invited to participate in developing a robust roster of speakers with diverse backgrounds and perspectives for the President's Speaker Series. Submit a speaker or topic for consideration by completing the suggestion form. All submissions will be considered and evaluated based on programming needs.



Past Events

Bernard Kinsey and family

The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection
"The Myth of Absence"

Wednesday, February 24, 2021
5–7 PM PST

The President's Speaker Series welcomes alumnus Bernard Kinsey (MBA '73), his wife, Shirley (MA '76), and their son, Khalil, who will present "The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection - 'The Myth of Absence.'" This event is part of Pepperdine's celebration of Black History Month that seeks to uplift Black voices, celebrate Black achievements, and serve as moments of reflection and remembrance of Black history in the United States.

Through a powerful and engaging interactive presentation, the Kinsey family will give an in-depth view and perspective of the objects and periods in history featured in the Kinsey Collection, widely considered one of the most comprehensive surveys of African American history and culture outside the Smithsonian Institution. The presentation will inspire, educate, and entertain—filling in gaps to the American story by highlighting the many and often untold examples of African American achievement and contribution.

During this dynamic presentation, audiences will be introduced to the "myth of absence" concept that has played a significant role in America's view of African Americans. Serving as a virtual tour of the Kinsey African American Art & History Collection, the presentation will prompt attendees to question what they were taught and challenge thought processes in regards to race and contribution in America.

Learn more about the Kinsey family and The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection with Bernard's recent Coffee with Jim.




Robert George and Cornel West

Honesty and Courage, Humility and Hope:
Robert George and Cornel West in Dialogue

Tuesday, January 12, 2021
5–7 PM PST

Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, and Cornel West, professor of the practice of public philosophy at Harvard University and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University, discuss the deep character required to engage thoughtfully and respectfully in vibrant conversations that explore diverse viewpoints.