Prominent authors, influential reporters and political icons.
The guests who have spoken at St. Joseph’s College’s Presidential Lecture Series all fall under at least one of these categories. Some, under all three.
After a four-year hiatus, the college-wide event returned in 2016 with Michelle Bernard — political analyst, author and television news commentator — presenting “More Than Single-Issue Voters: How Today’s American Women are Changing the Face of Feminism” at SJC Brooklyn and SJC Long Island.
“The Presidential Lecture Series embodies the College’s core values of intellectual curiosity and service to the community,” said St. Joseph’s College President, Jack P. Calareso, Ph.D. “They provide our students with opportunities to engage in the life of the mind and to join with the larger community in conversation, dialogue and inquiry.”
David Gergen, an adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton, and a senior political analyst on CNN, delivered the inaugural Presidential Lecture, “Eyewitness to Power: Leadership in America,” in 2004. Former Congressman and Democratic Majority Leader Richard (Dick) Gephardt was the speaker in 2005, a year after his second U.S. presidential campaign.
In 2006, world-renowned historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin presented “Presidents at War.” Ms. Kearns Goodwin signed copies of her latest book at the time, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, which became the basis for the 2012 Steven Spielberg film, Lincoln.
“We have a responsibility as reporters to get beyond our comfort zone,” Gwen Ifill, Washington Week managing editor said in her talk, “Politics, Policy and Reality: What’s Really Going on in Washington,” at the 2009 lecture.
TIME magazine columnist Joe Klein, the speaker at the 2010 lecture, advised students and other audience members to “Get your news from various sources. Hear all the sides. If you don’t, I can guarantee you are not hearing the truth.”
The emergence of social media was a hot topic during former U.S. Ambassador Joe Wilson’s 2011 presentation. “The best thing about social media is that it cuts across the barriers of traditional communication and geography,” he said.
Dr. Calareso said these public lectures bring together nationally recognized scholars and leaders with both the College and larger communities in ways that engender exposure to new and different ideas and perspectives and an awareness of the value of a diverse and inclusive dialogue.
“This year, Michelle Bernard provided powerful insight on the presidential campaign and the role of women in today’s society,” he said. “This event reflects the liberal arts ideals of the College and helps us remain firmly on a path of liberal education and the life of the mind.”
This article originally appeared in the Centennial Edition of St. Joseph’s College Magazine, fall 2016.