September 13, 2021

This September and October, the Wilson Center for Leadership in the Public Interest at Hampden-Sydney is hosting a symposium to commemorate the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001.

Panel discussion with men gathered on a stage“We built a symposium around the 20th anniversary of 9/11 precisely because our students today were toddlers or not yet born when those tragic events took place,” says Dr. Ryan Pemberton ’00, director of the Wilson Center. “Our students, future citizens, policy makers, and public servants need to understand these events, the way they have shaped our political system and national security decision-making, and how they impact civic discourse. These discussions provide valuable context for our students.”

The first event of “9/11: Twenty Years Later” kicked off the symposium on September 8 with a panel discussion on “Changes and Challenges to Our Legal System.”

Moderator Robert Luther III ’03, a Hampden-Sydney alumnus who serves as Of Counsel at Jones Day, moderated a lively conversation around the ways the terror attacks of 9/11 altered the legal system in the United States, the financial state of the world, and everyday life here in America. Additionally, each panelist explained the path of their career and the ways in which the 9/11 terror attacks influenced decisions within the positions they held, or the choices they made involving career choices.

Panelists included Mark Robertson ’93, a special counsel in the government affairs and strategic counsel group at Kasowitz Benson Torres; Michael Ellis, a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation who served previously as the National Security Agency’s general counsel and as deputy assistant to the president; and Ivan Schlager, a partner in the international trade and security practice at Kirkland and Ellis.

The first event was followed on September 9 with a keynote address from the Honorable James Cain, the former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, who discussed “Leadership and Statesmanship in Challenging Times.”

The Wilson Center’s 9/11 Symposium will continue on September 20 with a panel discussion on the U.S. intelligence community and national security infrastructure, featuring alumni Col. Dwayne Bowyer ’92 (U.S. Army), and Lewis Robinson ’91, assistant director of the National Counterterrorism Center, as well as several other expert panelists.

“Our goal at the Wilson Center is to prepare men of character for lives of consequence, in keeping with the College’s mission of forming good men and good citizens,” Pemberton says. “These interdisciplinary talks with alumni, parents, and friends provide insight into important civic issues of our day, and these practitioners help connect theory and practice for our students. We are grateful for their public service and expect they will inspire many of our students to pursue careers as decorated public servants.” 

Learn more about the 9/11 Symposium and other Wilson Center events this fall.

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