Visiting Scholars

At Thacher, learning doesn’t stop when you leave the classroom.

Every year we invite influential thinkers, doers, and performers to campus for lectures and performances that challenge, inspire, and introduce new ways of thinking to our community.

List of 4 items.

  • Anacapa Scholars

    The Anacapa Fellowship, established in 2006 through the generosity of two former Thacher parents, invites visiting scholars and artists to contribute to the Thacher community for a few weeks or months at a time. Through formal lectures, casual conversations in the dining hall, small workshops, and unique performances, Anacapa Scholars engage and share ideas with students and faculty alike. Recent scholars include:

    • Dr. Edward Ayers—Historian, President of the University of Richmond
    • Nancy Boutilier—Author, Professor at Oberlin College
    • Phil Condon—Nature Writer
    • Kiersten Todt Coon—Cyber Security Specialist
    • Jim Culver—Staff Trainer, National Outdoor Leadership School
    • David Ewing Duncan—Writer, Journalist
    • Scott Frank—Writer, Director
    • Silvia Grijalba—Spanish Fiction Writer, Journalist
    • Melissa Johnson & Derek Taylor Kent—Film Director & Writer
    • Clark Judge—White House Speechwriter
    • Steven Kirby—Musician, Professor at Berklee College of Music
    • Cynthia Lee CdeP 1998—Dancer
    • Jonathan Martin—Education Consultant
    • Rikki Ott—Environmentalist, Community Activist, Author
    • Mary Louise Porter—Contemporary Landscape Artist
    • Bruce Smith—Poet
    • Mark Spragg—Author
    • Ruth Cooper Ward—Survival Expert
    • Dr. Meg Harper—Yeats scholar and Professor at University of Limerick
    • Dr. John Asher Johson—Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University
    • Jonathon Linaberry—Blues Musician
  • Speakers and Performers

    From documentary filmmakers and composers to community activists and nonprofit founders, guests from every background and discipline regularly speak and perform at the school.

    • Ishmael Beah—Human Rights Activist, Author
    • Brian Bennett CdeP 1994—War Correspondent
    • Keith Boykin—Founder of the National Black Justice Coalition, Author
    • Rukmini Callimachi CdeP 1991—Journalist
    • Edie Carey—Urban Folk/Pop Singer-Songwriter
    • Christopher Cerf—Author, Composer, Lyricist, Record and Television Producer
    • Yvon Choinard P '98—Environmentalist, Adventurer, Founder/CEO of Patagonia
    • Dr. JoAnn Deak—Educator, Psychologist
    • Alephonision Deng—Author, Musician, and Former "Lost Boy of Sudan"
    • Thomas L. Friedman—Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist
    • Dr. Wayne Glass—Lecturer at the USC School of International Relations
    • James Newton Howard CdeP 1969—Composer
    • Gregory Alan Isakov—Singer-Songwriter
    • LA Contemporary Dance Theatre
    • Ladysmith Black Mambazo—South African Choral Group
    • Dan Malloy—Documentary Filmmaker
    • Dr. Mark Mathabane—Award-winning Author of Kaffir Boy
    • Colum McCann— Award-winning Author of Let the Great World Spin
    • Chris McDougall—Author of Born to Run
    • Malcolm McDowell—Actor
    • Dennis Miller P '08, '12—Comedian and Political Commentator
    • Mountain Film Festival
    • Morgan Neville CdeP 1985—Director of 20 Feet From Stardom
    • Judea Pearl—UCLA Professor and Father of Daniel Pearl
    • Brian Regan—Commedian
    • Rick Ridgeway P '00, '03—Mountaineer, Photographer, Writer, Environmentalist
    • Tom Russell—Singer-Songwriter
    • Samite—Traditional Music from Uganda
    • Tom Scott—Composer, Saxophonist
    • Sarah Lavender Smith CdeP 1986—Documentary Filmmaker
    • Dave Stamey and Virginia Bennett—Western Music and Cowboy Poetry
    • Kimmie Weeks—Child Rights Advocate
    • Dr. Karl Wilhelmsen—Research Scientist, Lawrence Livermore Lab
    • Rita Wilson P '14—Singer, Actress
  • The William H. Orrick Lecture Series

    The Orrick Lecture Series, established in 2005, was made possible by a generous donation from Suzanne Orrick in memory of her late husband, former U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick Jr. CdeP 1932. Judge Orrick had been a longstanding and loyal devotee and supporter of the School throughout his life. The lecture series named in his honor aims to educate students about the U.S. legal system, jurisprudence, and the public service done by attorneys and judges so that they may serve their communities and make a difference in the world after their time at Thacher. Every year brings a new theme, but the judge’s favorite dessert, Eskimo Pie, is always served at the end of the night.

    • Tom CdeP 1987 and Linda Cole, humanitarian activists
    • Clarence B. Jones, former advisor and friend of Martin Luther King, Jr.
    • Rena Karefa-Johnson CdeP 2005, law student and activist at Harvard Law School
    • Enrique Morones, immigration activist and founder of Border Angels
    • Stephen Nasser, a Holocaust survivor and author of My Brother’s Voice
    • Dawn Porter, the documentary filmmaker who made Gideon’s Army
    • Dr. Elyn Saks, USC professor, author, and expert on mental health law
  • McCloskey Speaker Series

    The McCloskey Speaker Series aims to bring high caliber, inspirational resources and speakers with a wide degree of expertise and interests to Thacher and to the Ojai community at large. It was made possible by a 2016 donation from the McCloskey Family Charitable Foundation that supports the operational costs of the series in perpetuity at Thacher.

    • Dr. William Bill R. Cook, medieval scholar and lecturer
    • Toy Carter, talent manager and founder/CEO of Atom Factory


Adding a visiting scholar to a class challenges the students as well as the teacher to look at things differently. Visiting scholars bring new perspectives, new methods, and additional information that always seem to spark a more interesting student discussion.

Seattle, Washington