The Carolyn Benton Cockefair Chair continues to play an influential role in the cultural and intellectual life at UMKC and in the Kansas City community.

The Cockefair Chair continues its 60-year tradition of presenting fascinating lectures. Lectures are announced as soon as arrangements are final. Please check this website and subscribe to our contact list so that you are sure to receive the most current lecture information.

Genius, Courage, and Betrayal: The Search for the Source of the Nile


Sponsor: Carolyn Benton Cockefair Chair
Date: Tuesday, August 9, 2022
Time: 11:30-1:00pm
Location: Pierson Auditorium, UMKC Atterbury Student Success Center, 5000 Holmes St., Kansas City, MO 64110, (UMKC Campus)

Parking is free in the lot directly northeast of the Atterbury Student Success Center. Access the lot at the intersection of Bixby Lane and Rockhill Road. Look for the signs reading “Event Parking”.

Cost: $30

(Tables will be reserved only if the entire table (8 seats) is purchased by one person at the time the tickets are ordered)


Register here

For millennia the location of the Nile River’s headwaters was shrouded in mystery. In the 19th century, there was a frenzy of interest in ancient Egypt. At the same time, European powers sent off waves of explorations intended to map the unknown corners of the globe – and extend their colonial empires.

In River of the Gods, Candice Millard has written another peerless story of courage and adventure – one of the great feats of exploration of all time and its complicated legacy – set against the backdrop of the race to exploit Africa by European powers.

Guest Bio:
Candice Millard is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The River of Doubt and Destiny of the Republic. Her book Hero of the Empire was named Amazon’s number one history book of 2016. She lives in Kansas City with her husband and three children.

Past Lectures

In the past few years, our audiences have heard famous historians, experts on climate change and foreign policy, renowned authors, educators and others who examine contemporary life. More outstanding lectures are coming from the Cockefair Chair.

Recent lecturers include authors Adam Gopnik, Andrew Kaplan, Ben Lerner and Meg Wolitzer, experts on climate change Diana Liverman and Bill McKibben, artist Carrie Mae Weems, former Ambassador Michael McFaul, educators Sarah Lewis and Sarah Marty, historian Andrew Bacevich, former Press Secretary to the President Josh Earnest, founder/executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative Bryan Stevenson and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson