Dillard Notables of 2021: #2 Malcolm Gladwell

Walter M. Kimbrough
3 min readDec 31, 2021


Wednesday, January 13, 2021. I received an e-mail that began like this:

My name is Malcolm Gladwell. I’m a writer in New York. I do the Revisionist History podcast. I’m wondering if I might run an idea by you.

I’m thinking, “Dude! I know who you are! LOL” What a cool way to begin 2021. We had a series of e-mails followed by a video conference interview. I really enjoyed getting to know Malcolm after reading his work for years. I think he enjoyed it too, and he proposed coming to visit Dillard.

We choose April 22nd. My birthday.

For about an hour, he engaged a group of students about their experience at Dillard, challenges they see with higher education, etc. I sent out an e-mail to students to see who would be excited about meeting Malcolm Gladwell, and this group was super excited.

Members of my team were excited too, so it made for an interesting day.

In July, the new episodes of “Revisionist History” dropped. There ended up being two related to Dillard. The first was a broader critique of the US News College rankings. You can listen to the episode here:

The next episode was all about Dillard University, so much it was called, “Project Dillard.” You can listen here:

The podcast is already popular, and it provided exposure for Dillard that we could not have dreamed of, especially to people and organizations that had never heard of us. Here is a sampling of media around the episode:

And the podcast generated broader discussions about rankings, not just of HBCUs, but for all of higher education.

Malcolm also had several high-profile interviews, including Ozyfest.

And he made an appearance on The Breakfast Club. Here is the segment on Dillard.

And you can watch the full interview here.

I’ve heard from companies that now have Dillard on their radar for internships and jobs, or new donors writing and sending checks after hearing this podcast. It was a powerful moment in 2021.

The Prez



Walter M. Kimbrough

12th president of Philander Smith College. 7th president of Dillard University. Now in an Intermission.