Offices & Resources

Gray Colloquium Speakers

The C. Boyden Gray Colloquium is designed to engage St. Mark’s students in an exploration of one complex global issue annually. Students hear from outside speakers with varying viewpoints, participate in small group discussions, write about and debate the issue, and take part in all-community events. C. Boyden Gray ’60, former Board President and current Trustee, has committed $1.5 million to fund this annual yearlong learning exercise.

St. Markers, Gray believes “should think in big terms and be inquisitive about the outside world.” Gray, a former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, White House counsel to the first President Bush, and recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal, hopes that tackling these topics in an intensive fashion will inspire students to serve their country and the world.

The Gray Colloquium Student Committee generate the theme for the year and offer suggestions for speakers and events. During the year, they offer support when speakers visit, share luncheons with the speakers, introduce the speakers to the whole school, and help arrange student activities around the visits. The Student Committee is comprised of 2-4 students from each form, selected by application.

Interested in speaking to our students on the current topic? Contact Sarah McCann.

2022-2023 Gray Colloquium Speakers

Conspiracies and Consequences




Thursday, December 1, 2022 - Gish Jen

Bio: Oxford

Gish Jen has published short work in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and dozens of other periodicals, anthologies and textbooks. Her work has been chosen for The Best American Short Stories five times, including The Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike. Nominated for a National Book Critics’ Circle Award, her work was featured in a PBS American Masters’ special on the American novel and is widely taught. Jen is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has been awarded a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction, a Guggenheim fellowship, a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study fellowship, and a Mildred and Harold Strauss Living; she has also delivered the William E. Massey, Sr. Lectures in the History of American Civilization at Harvard University. She is currently a Visiting Professor at Harvard.

Gish Jen was born Lillian Jen on 12 August 1955 in New York City to Chinese immigrant parents from Shanghai, Norman and Agnes. They met in the United States and initially planned to return to China, but they remained due to the communist takeover in 1949. Jen, the second of five children, grew up in Yonkers and Scarsdale. While in high school, Jen adopted the name Gish after an actress, Lillian Gish. She started out to be a pre-med and pre-law student, but she graduated from Harvard University majoring in English in 1977. After working for a year in New York City, she entered an MBA program at Stanford Business School but left Stanford to teach English in Shandong, China. She enrolled at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and received an MFA in 1983. She married David O’Connor and moved to Silicon Valley in California, where David worked. His work moved the family to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and after failing to find a secretarial job at Harvard, Jen was awarded a fellowship at Radcliffe’s Bunting Institute. It was during this time that Jen worked on her first novel, Typical American (1991). The New York Times recognized the novel as a “Notable Book of the Year,” and it was one of the finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Jen’s second novel, Mona in the Promised Land (1996), derived from her short story, “What Means Switch?” and is a sequel to Typical American. Jen’s next book, Who’s Irish? (1999), is a collection of eight short stories, and two stories from the collection were selected for the Best American Short Stories anthology. John Updike chose “Birthmates” for The Best American Short Stories of the Century (1999). Jen’s next book, The Love Wife (2004), departs from the Chang family and focuses on the new American family that consists of multiethnic members, including Asian, Asian American, and white American. Jen published World and Town in 2010, and her most recent work is Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, and the Independent Self (2013). Jen is a recipient of various fellowships, including the National Endowment for the Arts fellowship (1988).

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