From Liberia to HWS and Back – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

From Liberia to HWS and Back

James Emmanuel Roberts ’66 will be returning to HWS on Thursday, October 21, to give a public talk tentatively entitled, “From Liberia to HWS and Back.” The discussion will be informal, with questions from and interaction with students cordially invited.

In 1980, when the Liberian military overthrew the elected government, Roberts was declared an enemy of the state and nearly executed.

“My plays had been critical of the administration and I refused to take a position in the government,” recalls Roberts. “I spent some time in prison and was finally released in 1986.”

Roberts graduated from Hobart College with a B.A. in English in 1966 and went on to complete an M.F.A. in theatre arts from Boston University. Before Liberia’s Civil War, he worked in theatre, dance and television for more than 10 years.

After his incarceration, Roberts fled Liberia and was exiled in the United States. Realizing the damage that a 15-year civil war would cause in the Liberian education system and feeling a sense of responsibility to make a difference, Roberts enrolled in Harvard University where he earned a M.Ed. in administration, planning and social policy analysis.

He returned to Liberia in 1997, establishing an NGO that designed training programs for educators. In 2006, he was named Deputy Minister for Planning, Research and Development for the Ministry of Education. In his latest position, Roberts is responsible for evaluating the Ministry’s programs. The Ministry recently launched the Education Sector Plan of Liberia, which seeks to reform the nation’s education system. This past summer his efforts won $40 million for Liberia schools.

His talk will begin at 4:30 p.m., in the Sanford Room. For more information about Roberts’ visit, please write to This event is being sponsored by the President’s Office.

In the photo above, Roberts is pictured with Professor Charlie Temple and others.