The Visiting Scholar Program offers undergraduates the opportunity to spend time with some of America's most distinguished scholars. The purpose of the program is to contribute to the intellectual life of the institution by fostering interaction between Visiting Scholars and the resident students and faculty. The Visiting Scholar spends two days on each campus, participating in class discussions, meeting informally with students, and giving a public lecture open to the academic community and the general public.

About the Program


In 2017, Phi Beta Kappa received a gift from Carl F. Cranor, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at University of California-Riverside, to establish an endowment in support of the Society’s Visiting Scholar Program. Every year the Carl F. Cranor Family Endowment for the Visiting Scholar Program funds a Scholar whose visits will include at least one to a Phi Beta Kappa chapter campus located in Southern California.

More information about Cranor's scholarship and background, visit the following website.

Upcoming Lectures

2022 PBK Visiting Scholar: Donald S. Lopez Jr.


Event Date: April 20-21, 2022

Donald S. Lopez Jr. is the Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan.

Professor Lopez is the author, translator, and editor of numerous works in the field of Buddhist Studies, on topics ranging from Buddhist philosophy to Buddhism and Science. He has also written extensively on the European encounter with Buddhism. Among anthologies, he is the editor of the Buddhism volume of the Norton Anthology of World Religions and Buddhist Scriptures for Penguin Classics. His recent books include Dispelling the Darkness: A Jesuit’s Quest for the Soul of Tibet (with Thupten Jinpa) and Gendun Chopel: Tibet’s Modern Visionary. In 2008, he was the first scholar of Buddhism to deliver the Terry Lectures at Yale. In 2014, The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (edited with Robert Buswell) was awarded the Dartmouth Medal for best reference work of the year. In 2000, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

This event is sponsored by the Mu Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at UCI and UCI Illuminations.

For more information about this event and to RSVP, click here!

2021 PBK Visiting Scholar: Roger Guenveur Smith

Roger Guenveur Smith

Roger Guenveur Smith adapted his Obie Award-winning performance of A HUEY P. NEWTON STORY into a Peabody Award-winning telefilm. His Bessie Award- winning RODNEY KING is currently streaming on Netflix. His latest solo is OTTO FRANK, inspired by the father of diarist Anne Frank. For the international stage Mr. Smith has also created and performed studies of Frederick Douglass, Christopher Columbus, and Bob Marley. His eclectic range of screen credits includes DO THE RIGHT THING, EVE’S BAYOU, HAMLET, ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS, BIRTH OF A NATION, the HBO series K STREET and OZ, and AMERICAN GANGSTER, for which he was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award. He has essayed portraits of Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley, Tuskegee Institute founder Booker T. Washington, NAACP secretary Walter White, and Rosa Parks’ husband and comrade, Raymond Parks. Roger studied at Yale University and Occidental College and has taught at both institutions as well as Cal Arts, where he directs his Performing History Workshop.

This lecture will take place on May 5-6, 2021.

Past Lectures

2020 Carl F. Cranor Visiting Scholar : Richard Alley

Portraits of Richard Alley

Dr. Richard Alley (PhD 1987, Geology, Wisconsin) is Evan Pugh University Professor of Geosciences at Penn State. He studies the great ice sheets to help predict future changes in climate and sea level, including four trips to Antarctica, nine to Greenland, and more studies in Alaska and elsewhere. He has been honored for research (including election to the US National Academy of Sciences and Foreign Membership in the Royal Society), teaching, and service. Dr. Alley participated in the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize), and has provided requested advice to numerous government officials in multiple administrations including a US Vice President, Presidental Science Advisors, and committees and individual members of the US Senate and House of Representatives. He has authored or coauthored over 300 refereed scientific papers. He was presenter for the PBS TV miniseries on climate and energy Earth: The Operators’ Manual, and author of the book.  His popular account of climate change and ice cores, The Two-Mile Time Machine, was Phi Beta Kappa’s science book of the year. Dr. Alley is happily married with two grown daughters, two stay-at-home cats, a bicycle, and a pair of soccer cleats.

To listen to a recent interview on KUCI with Dr. Alley please click here.

2019 Visiting Scholar: Natasha Trethewey

Dr. Natasha Trethewey is the Board of Trustees Professor of English at Northwestern University. Previously Professor Trethewey spent 15 years at Emory University, most recently as the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing. She served two terms as the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States (2012-2014) and is the author of four collections of poetry, Domestic Work, Bellocq’s Ophelia, Native Guard—for which she was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize—and Thrall. In 2010, she published a book of non-fiction, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Beinecke Library at Yale, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. In 2017 she received the Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities. Dr. Trethewey will read from her latest book of poems titled Monument,which was long listed for the 2018 National Book Award for Poetry.