Senator George J. Mitchell
Distinguished International Lecture Series

The Mitchell Series brings a prominent policy leader each year to Colby College for a dinner and a lecture designed to foster interaction with students, faculty, and members of the greater Waterville community. The series is in honor of former U.S. Senator, statesman, international negotiator, and Waterville native George Mitchell.

The series was launched by generous contributions from Mitchell family members and friends of the senator who were eager to bring a high-profile event to the Waterville area. They include Paul Mitchell, the senator’s brother and a lifelong businessman in Waterville; his son Bill Mitchell, also a Waterville businessman and the senator’s nephew; and three of Senator Mitchell’s cousins, Bob Baldacci, a Portland consultant and brother of Maine’s former governor, and Waterville attorneys John and Mark Nale.

prominent policy leader to campus each spring for a lecture and a dinner designed to foster interaction with students, faculty, and members of the greater Waterville community while honoring former U.S. Senator, statesman, international negotiator, and Waterville native George Mitchell. The series was launched by generous contributions from Mitchell family members and friends of the senator who were eager to bring a high-profile event to the Waterville area. They include Paul Mitchell, the senator’s brother and a lifelong businessman in Waterville; his son Bill Mitchell, also a Waterville businessman and the senator’s nephew; and three of Senator Mitchell’s cousins, Bob Baldacci, a Portland consultant and brother of Maine’s former governor, and Waterville attorneys John and Mark Nale.

The International War Against Democracy: Current Threats and Building a Stronger Future

September 12, 2023

The prestigious speaker for the 2023 Mitchell lecture was Ambassador (retired) Robert Gelbard ’64, LL.D ’02. Mr. Gelbard is a former U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia, East Timor and Bolivia. In addition to his ambassadorial postings, Mr. Gelbard has served in several senior Foreign Service positions under Presidents Clinton, George H. W. Bush, and Obama, including as President Clinton’s Special Representative for the Balkans. A decorated public servant, and Peace Corps volunteer, the Ambassador has had a long and distinguished career in diplomacy and democracy-building. 

Democracies worldwide are under sustained attack. At the heart of all democracies are their institutions, with the justice sector at its core, buttressed by media, civil society and others which reflect the voice of those nations’ peoples. These institutions are the focus of anti-democratic forces’ efforts, in all parts of the world, including the US. To defeat these dictators, autocrats and other anti-democratic leaders and movements requires urgent action at all levels: locally, nationally and through multilateral coordination. Drawing on his breadth of experience as a diplomat and public servant, Mr. Gelbard will share his call to action and offer insights into preserving a future for global democracy. 

Senator Mitchell Distinguished International Lectures

Ambassador (retired) Robert Gelbard ’64, LL.D ’02; former US Ambassador to Indonesia, East Timor, and Bolivia (September 12, 2023) The International War Against Democracy: Current Threats and Building a Stronger Future

Gayle E. Smith, CEO of the ONE Campaign (April 7, 2022)    The Global Pandemic Response: Reflections and Next Steps

Ambassador Daniel C. Kurtzer, S. Daniel Abraham Professor of Middle East Policy Studies, Princeton University (Sept. 10,  2020) Middle East Conundrum: A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma

Executive Director, Americas Division, Human Rights Watch José Miguel Vivanco (April 15, 2019) Populism and Double Standards: Growing Challenges to Human Rights in the Americas

World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva (May 6, 2018)
The Role of the World Bank: Why We Dare to Confront Global Challenges.

U.S. Senator for Maine Angus King (April 19, 2017)
Lessons in Foreign Policy, from North Korea to Syria and back to Washington

Former U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell (March 15, 2016)

U.S. Senator for Maine Susan Collins (April 9, 2015)
Why Moderation and Bipartisanship Lead to Progress

Former U.S. Senator Thomas A. Daschle (April 16, 2014)

Former U.S. Senator Alan K. Simpson (April 10, 2013)

U.S. Department of State Legal Adviser Harold Koh (Feb. 26, 2012) International Lawyering for the U.S. Government in an Era of Smart Power

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg (Oct. 21, 2010) American Leadership and International Cooperation in the 21st Century

Senator George J. Mitchell, U.S. special envoy to the Middle East (Oct. 22, 2009) Conflict Resolution: George Mitchell Reflects on Personal Experiences

The Honorable Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State (Oct. 25, 2007)

President Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and former U.N. High Commissioner of Human Rights (Oct. 12, 2006) The Challenge of Human Rights in the 21st Century

Senator George J. Mitchell (Sept. 22, 2005)
America’s Role in the 21st Century