The Institute for the Arts and Humanities has hosted UNC’s Weil Lecture on American Citizenship since 2000. Brothers Henry and Solomon Weil established the lecture in 1915 to widen discussion of the American scene.

Presidents Taft and Carter, Eleanor Roosevelt, Senators J. William Fulbright and Nancy Kassebaum and Professor Lester Thurow are among the many distinguished Weil lecturers. Other recent speakers have been members of Congress, diplomats, political commentators and renowned scholars.


Barney Frank

“Indispensability Abroad vs. Effective Democratic Governance at Home”


Jon M. Huntsman

“America 2012 and Beyond: Challenges and Opportunities”


Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

“Unfinished Dreams: America, Religion and Citizenship”2009


Senator John F. Kerry

“Global Warming and Community Action”


Marcelo Suarez-Orozco

“Immigration and Education”


Anna Deavere Smith

“Standing in the Shadows: Wide Awakeness Counts”


Kevin Phillips

“The New Politics of Wealth and Democracy”


Jonathan Kozol

“Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation”

Weil Family Contributions
The Weil lecture is one of many contributions to the university by the Weil family.Brothers Henry, Solomon and Herman Weil arrived in the small eastern North Carolina town of Goldsboro from their home in Germany sometime prior to 1859, the year their names first appear in Census records.They began business as “wagon peddlers,” selling from farm to farm. On May 4, 1865, 45 days after Sherman’s army occupied Goldsboro, they opened their permanent store on Center Street. Herman, the oldest of the three brothers, was 16 when he arrived. He served in the Confederate Army before joining his brothers in opening the store.Since their arrival in the area, the Weils have been involved in the affairs of their religion, community and nation. Each succeeding generation of Weil descendants continues a tradition of philanthropy and community involvement. Weils have been elected officials, UNC trustees and early leaders in women’s suffrage, civil rights and historic preservation.Weils have donated funds and land to create Herman Park, Mina Weil Park and Cliffs of the Neuse State Park. Family members donated a building and helped establish the Wayne County Library, the Oheb Sholom Temple for the Jewish Community and the Paramount Theater for the Performing Arts. They were involved in building the Wayne County Hospital. Five family members have served as hospital trustees.Weils have invented and patented improvements for farming operations. Weil women were instrumental in establishing the North Carolina Association of Jewish Women, the Goldsboro Women’s Club and the Junior Women’s Club. Family members have built dormitories for their favorite colleges and universities and have supported the medical, information and library science, and business schools at UNC-Chapel Hill over the years.Weils have been and continue to serve as club and board members of a wide variety of organizations and businesses. Family members are musicians, artists, poets and writers as well as business leaders and dedicated community servants.