KU News Release


Jan. 18, 2011
Contact: Heather Anderson, Dole Institute of Politics, (785) 864-1422

Dole Institute lecture series asks, ‘Who would you put on Mount Rushmore?’

More Information

LAWRENCE — The Dole Institute of Politics will host historian Richard Norton Smith for its 2011 Presidential Lecture Series. This year’s series will feature four programs throughout January and February envisioning a “20th Century Mount Rushmore.” All programs are at the Dole Institute.

The four-part series will include discussions with Smith regarding his top presidential picks from the past century. Smith’s modern-day rock sculpture would comprise Ronald Reagan, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Woodrow Wilson. The lecture series will feature a related book event with KU professor Robin Rowland as well.

“Richard is an extraordinary historian and the architect of the Dole Institute vision,” said Dole Institute Director Bill Lacy. “This will be an entertaining and informative program, as well as simply a lot of fun.”

Smith was looking for a fresh take on the academic parlor game “Rank the Presidents.” The idea of narrowing the timeframe and number of significant presidents down to a single monument was intriguing and hearing which presidents audience members would immortalize if given the chance will be an entertaining aspect of the series for Smith.

“When Bill Lacy was kind enough to invite me back to KU, I thought it might be fun to conjure up a more manageable number of historically significant presidents — enough to populate a contemporary version of Mount Rushmore,” Smith said. “How and why I chose my modern quartet of great leaders will no doubt form part of our conversations.”

Smith has been involved in politics for more than 35 years. He has worked as senatorial speech writer, journalist for the Washington Post and director of five presidential libraries and museums, including the Dole Institute. Smith is an author and a scholar-in-residence at George Mason University. He is a frequent contributor to such publications as Time, Life and the New York Times. And he is a familiar face to viewers of C-SPAN and the PBS NewsHour, with which he has been associated since 2000.

The series includes the following events.

Ronald Reagan
3 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 30
Join Smith and former Reagan Political Director Lacy as they reminisce about the 40th president as the 100th anniversary of his birth approaches. The public is invited to an open reception immediately following the program at the Lied Center’s Seymour Gallery.

Franklin D. Roosevelt
7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 16
Lacy interviews Smith about the most significant Democratic president of the last century. Book event: Reagan at Westminster. Rowland will discuss his new book regarding Reagan’s historic speech foreshadowing the fall of the iron curtain. The event will include a book sale and signing.

Dwight D. Eisenhower
7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb, 23
Smith argues that Kansas’ own favorite son deserves his place on the rock.

Woodrow Wilson
7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 24
Smith explains why the progressive icon is the fourth and final member of the 20th century dream team.

All programs are free and open to the public.

The annual Presidential Lecture Series is a signature event at the Dole Institute. Each February, the Dole Institute presents a series of lectures focusing exclusively on an aspect of the U.S. presidency — present and past.


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