Media Releases

Renowned NYU Professor and Author to Deliver Keynote Address at North Central College’s 25th Annual Rall Symposium for Student Research

Apr 17, 2023

Renowned author and communication professor Dr. Charlton McIlwain will deliver the keynote address at North Central College’s 2023 Rall Symposium for Student Research. The 25th annual event, which showcases scholarly work and presentations from student researchers from all majors—incorporating graduate research for the first time this year—will take place on April 20. The keynote address will kick off the day’s events at 8:30 a.m. in the Wentz Concert Hall in Naperville.

McIlwain is the vice provost for faculty engagement and development at New York University’s (NYU), and professor of media, culture, and communication in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. He is also the founder of the Center for Critical Race and Digital Studies at NYU. His research focuses on the intersections of race, digital media, and racial justice activism. He has served as an expert witness in landmark U.S. Federal Court cases on reverse redlining/racial targeting in mortgage lending, and recently testified before the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services about the impacts of automation and artificial intelligence on the financial services sector.

"North Central College is honored to welcome teacher, scholar and activist Charlton McIlwain to campus as our 2023 Rall Symposium speaker," said Interim President Dr. Donna Carroll. "Dr. McIlwain's research provides students with a model for engaged scholarship that is both integrating personally and forward reaching."

McIlwain is the author of “Black Software: The Internet & Racial Justice, From the AfroNet to Black Lives Matter.” The book takes a hard look at the long relationship between the Black community in America and software—including the early pioneers who built online communities in the dial-up era; the relationship between software, the civil rights movement, and policing; and today’s social platforms, which amplify and distribute everything from TikTok dances to the Black Lives Matter movement. He also co-authored—with Dr. Stephen Maynard Caliendo, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at North Central College—the award-winning book, “Race Appeal: How Political Candidates Invoke Race in U.S. Political Campaigns.” He writes regularly for outlets such as The Guardian, Slate’s Future Tense, MIT Technology Review, and other outlets about the intersection of race and technology. McIlwain is the founder of the Center for Critical Race & Digital Studies, the president of the board for Data & Society Research Institute, heads NYU’s Alliance for Public Interest Technology, and is NYU’s designee to the Public Interest Technology University Network.

He received his doctorate degree in communication and a master’s degree in human relations, both from the University of Oklahoma, and a bachelor’s degree in family psychology from Oklahoma Baptist University.

The Rall Symposium was first held in 1998 and is part of the College’s Honors Day. The event is named for Dr. Joseph Rall, M.D., Ph.D., North Central Class of 1940. Dr. Rall played a critical role in attracting Nobel Laureates and other distinguished scholars to speak to Symposium attendees.

North Central College Honors Day 2023 Schedule of Events

8:30 – 9:30 a.m.                      Keynote Address

                                                Wentz Concert Hall (171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville)

9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.            25th Annual Rall Symposium for Student Research

                                                Wentz Science Center (131 S. Loomis St., Naperville)

1:30 – 3:30 p.m.                      47th Annual Honors Convocation

                                                Wentz Concert Hall

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.                      Honors Convocation Reception

                                                Wentz Concert Hall Lobby

4:30 – 7 p.m.                           Student Honor Societies Inductions

                                                Various Locations

This event is free and open to the public. For more information about North Central College’s Honors Day 2023, visit