Jane Mayer Delivers Wellesley’s 2019 Wilson Lecture

March 20, 2019

On March 19, journalist and author Jane Mayer visited campus to deliver the 2019 Wilson Lecture. Her talk, “Fake News and Alternative Facts: The War on Truth in Politics and Academia,” was followed by a Q&A led by Stacie Goddard, professor of political science, and Irene Mata, Barbara Morris Caspersen Associate Professor of Humanities and associate professor of women’s and gender studies.

Mayer was the Wall Street Journal’s first woman White House correspondent, is a best-selling author, and currently serves as the chief Washington correspondent for the New Yorker, where she covers politics, culture, and national security. Throughout her career, Mayer has worked to shed light on controversial issues.


Paula Johnson introduces Jane Mayer

Wellesley President Paula A. Johnson introduces Jane Mayer. In her remarks, President Johnson applauded Mayer’s dedication to “engaging in what [Mayer] has called a ‘vital dialogue with the American people, telling them truths they need to know for our democracy to work.’”

Mayer addresses a sold out crowd in alumnae hall

Mayer speaks to a full house in Alumnae Hall Auditorium. In concluding her address, Mayer said that she sees the pursuit of truth as the way forward: “At the end of the day, I am betting on democracy and the facts that sustain it—not the alternative ones, but the real ones—and that they will win. It may take a fight, and it may not happen overnight.”

Two professors moderate a Q&A on stage with Jane Mayer

Wellesley professors Irene Mata (right) and Stacie Goddard (center) continue the conversation with Mayer after her talk. As members of the Committee on Lectures and Cultural Events (CLCE), they nominated Mayer to be this year’s Wilson Lecturer. In her answer to a question about how she approaches balancing the many opinions in today’s society, Mayer said it is vital to “listen to the other side and take it seriously enough to engage with it.”

A student holds a mic and asks a question of a distinguished guest.

Arielle Mitropoulos ’19, a political science major and aspiring journalist, asks Mayer a question during the student Q&A portion of the event.

Jane Mayer speaks to a student at a reception.

Jane Mayer chats with a student at a reception after the event. Before leaving the stage, Mayer acknowledged her shared career trajectory with the lecturer’s namesake, saying she was “so honored to have any association with Carolyn A. Wilson.”

Wilson, a journalist and war correspondent and a member of Wellesley’s class of 1910, endowed the Wilson Lecture Series to ensure that future generations of Wellesley students would be familiar with the most important public figures and issues of the day. Over the years, the Wilson Lecture has been given by innovative and influential thinkers such as Elie Wiesel, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Toni Morrison, Chinua Achebe, Paul Farmer, and Al Gore.