Anna Malaika Tubbs, Jan Barker Alexander, and Bee Joyner onstage at the event

This spring’s “Three Mothers” event featured (from left) Anna Malaika Tubbs, Jan Barker Alexander, and Bee Joyner ’24.

President Launches Initiative to Encourage Dialogue on Challenging Issues


n response to a cultural climate that often turns conversations on important issues into yelling matches, President Strom C. Thacker has launched the Pitzer College Presidential Initiative on Constructive Dialogue. Earlier this year, Thacker convened a campus organizing committee to plan events and facilitate related programming.

In a message to the community, Thacker described the initiative’s goal to support “the development of a vibrant and inclusive campus culture where individuals feel heard, respected, and empowered to engage in meaningful conversations that contribute to enhanced and shared learning and understanding, as well as personal and collective growth.”

Tubbs poses with Thacker and Trustee Ruett Foster

Tubbs (center) with Trustee Ruett Foster ’81 (left) and President Strom C. Thacker.

As of publication, the initiative has sponsored several events this spring. Author Anna Malaika Tubbs visited campus to discuss her book, The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation (co-sponsored by the Melvin L. Oliver Racial Justice Initiative) with Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Jan Barker Alexander and Bee Joyner ’24.

Thacker moderated “How Do We Talk About Israel and Palestine?”—a conversation between Muslim Public Affairs Council Co-founder Salam Al-Marayati and New Israel Fund CEO and author Daniel Sokatch.

The initiative also hosted a screening of the 2024 Academy Award-nominated short film, The Barber of Little Rock, and a discussion with co-director John Hoffman and the film’s titular subject, Arlo Washington. This event was also cosponsored by the Racial Justice Initiative.

Thacker’s initiative seeks to counter the false notion that civil dialogue requires giving priority to politeness over frank and often passionate discussions. As Thacker explained during the event with Al-Marayati and Sokatch, he hopes the initiative will demonstrate how it’s possible to “agree to disagree agreeably” on sensitive topics and to learn from each other in the process.

Read more about the Presidential Initiative on Constructive Dialogue.