Famed Journalist Malcolm Gladwell Inspires Conversation at Goodwin College

More than 600 excited audience members packed the Goodwin College auditorium on April 9 to hear award-winning journalist and bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell speak as part of the College’s Vital Voices: The T. Boone Pickens Endowed Lecture Series for Education, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. The free-admission event was co-sponsored by the Connecticut River Valley Chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization/World Presidents’ Organization.

“How can anybody not take advantage of the opportunity to hear this man speak?” asked Sandra LaJeunesse, principal of Odyssey Consulting, who had encouraged a group of friends to accompany her.

Gladwell, named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, spoke at length about the perceived legitimacy of civil constructs ranging from the police, to global tax laws, to America’s education system. “People will obey authority when they feel that authority has legitimacy,” he said, pointing out systems and authorities in everyday life that can be perceived as unfair.

Gladwell lauded programs and philosophies adopted by Goodwin College as bringing legitimacy to education. More than 60 percent of its students are Pell Grant recipients. “The rise of online education, flexible hours,” Gladwell said. “This is important. This is a necessary step to accommodate the increased complexity of peoples’ lives.”

As the audience members queued up for a book signing following the discussion, Goodwin President Mark Scheinberg offered, “Vital Voices continually brings inspiring, challenging guests to our campus. It’s wonderful to see our students having access to speakers of Mr. Gladwell’s caliber.”

“I loved the way he touched on realities that are sometimes difficult to put into perspective and made them come to life, with a challenge to his listeners to work at making things better,” Eileen McMurrer, Public Awareness Coordinator for the Connecticut Birth to Three System, commented after the discussion.

Vital Voices: The T. Boone Pickens Endowed Lecture Series for Education, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship hosts several lectures each year at Goodwin College focused on first-hand perspectives of leaders who are making a mark in business and in the community. Previous speakers have included former presidential candidate and editor of Forbes Magazine Steve Forbes, celebrated civil rights activist Congressman James Clyburn, and entrepreneur Stew Leonard.

Check out photos from the event here.