‘When Life Strikes the White House’: SMU symposium examines effects of personal crises on U.S. presidencies

Amity Shlaes

‘When Life Strikes the White House’: SMU symposium examines effects of personal crises on U.S. presidencies

Black and white stock photo of the White House

SMU continues its schedule of events observing the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination with a symposium exploring the effects of personal crises on a presidential administration.

Experts from SMU and around the nation will participate in “When Life Strikes the White House: Death, Scandal, Illness, and the Responsibilities of a President,” a two-day examination of the effect of three types of turning points in the lives of sitting presidents – illness, personal matters made public, and death in the family. The symposium will explore what happens to a president and his administration when that president suffers a personal crisis, and whether it results in policy change or an identifiable change in historical moments.

The program begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18 in the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza with a focus on John Kennedy. An all-day seminar on Wednesday, Feb. 19 on the SMU campus will examine Kennedy and 12 other presidents.

The symposium is presented by SMU’s Center for Presidential History, Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, George W. Bush Library and Museum and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.

> More information and online registration at SMU’s Tower Center website

Richard Reeves

A summary of events, topics and speakers:

Tuesday, Feb. 18 – 7 p.m., Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza (411 Elm Street, Dallas)

Richard Reeves, senior lecturer in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, will discuss the traumatic events at play in John Kennedy’s life during his tenure as president – Addison’s disease, the death of his infant son, and extramarital indiscretions.

An author and syndicated columnist who has made a number of award-winning documentary films, Reeves’ latest book is Portrait of Camelot: A Thousand Days in the Kennedy White House (Abrams, 2010).

Wednesday, Feb. 19 – 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Bob Hope Theatre, Owen Arts Center, SMU

Personal Crises and Public Responsibility

  • A comparison of John Tyler and Gerald Ford: Mark Updegrove, presidential historian, author of Baptism by Fire: Eight Presidents Who Took Office During Times of Crisis (Thomas Dunne Books, 2009)
  • Bill Clinton: William Chafe, co-director of Duke University’s Program on History, Public Policy and Social Change
  • Andrew Jackson: Dan Feller, director of The Papers of Andrew Jackson at the University of Tennessee
  • Lyndon Johnson: Randall Woods, Distinguished Professor, John A. Cooper Professor of History, University of Arkansas

Loss in the Family

  • Calvin Coolidge: Amity Shlaes, syndicated columnist, director of the Four Percent Growth Project at the George W. Bush Institute, author of Coolidge (Harper Collins, 2013)
  • Franklin Pierce: Michael Holt, emeritus professor of history at University of Virginia, author of Franklin Pierce (Times Books, 2010)
  • John Kennedy: David Nasaw, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Professor of History at City University of New York, award-winning author
  • Abraham Lincoln: Michael Burlingame, Chancellor and Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois-Springfield

Presidential Illness

  • Woodrow Wilson: Tom Knock, associate professor in SMU’s Clements Department of History, author of To End All Wars: Woodrow Wilson and the Quest for a New World Order (Princeton University Press, 1992)
  • Richard Nixon: Jeremi Suri, Mack Brown Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, author of Henry Kissinger and the American Century (Harvard, 2007)
  • Ronald Reagan: Kiron Skinner, associate professor of social and decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, co-author of multiple books on the 40th president, including Reagan: A Life in Letters (The Free Press, 2001)
  • Franklin Roosevelt: Frank Costigliola, professor of history at the University of Connecticut, author of Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances: How Personal Politics Helped Start the Cold War (Princeton University Press, 2013)

Karen HughesCapstone Presentation – 7 p.m., George W. Bush Institute Auditorium (2943 SMU Boulevard)

Political and corporate strategist Karen Hughes ’77 – once named by The Associated Press as “perhaps the most influential woman ever to serve an American president” – will give the capstone presentation. Her ability to manage public policy, communications and politics helped brand George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservative” image, lending to the success of his gubernatorial campaigns beginning in 1994 and his subsequent campaigns for president.

From 2001-02 Hughes served as strategic adviser to President Bush on policy and communications, managing all communications, speech writing and media affairs for the White House. She served as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs from 2005-07. Now based in Austin, Hughes is worldwide vice chair of the public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller, advising global business leaders on communications and branding strategies. She also serves on the board of SMU’s Tower Center for Political Studies in Dedman College.

For more information, call 214-768-3210 or e-mail SMU’s Center for Presidential History.

> Register online at the Tower Center homepage

February 14, 2014|Calendar Highlights, News|

Calendar Highlights: Mar. 5, 2013

Coolidge: Author and Director of the George W. Bush Institute’s 4% Growth Project Amity Shlaes will be on the Hilltop Wednesday, Mar. 6 to give a lecture entitled The President Who Said No: Debt, Temperament, and Calvin Coolidge’s Lessons for Today. The lecture will focus on Coolidge’s legacy as a president who is remembered for encouraging business growth, supporting technological innovation and helping the nation successfully confront difficult fiscal problems. Shlaes’ book, Coolidge, will be available for purchase and signing at the lecture. Shlaes is an adjunct professor of economic history in the Stern School of Business at NYU. The event is free and open to the public, but attendees must register. It starts at 6 p.m. in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall.

Martin Rico’s work at Meadows: At 6 p.m. Thursday, March 7,  Javier Barón Thaidigsmann will host an evening lecture on the new exhibit of Martin Rico’s work at the Meadows Museum. Thaidigsmann is chief curator of 19th-Century Painting at the Museo Nacional del Prado, and he will speak on the 19th century vistas by one of Spain’s beloved painters, who played a role in the introduction of the realist landscape. The exhibit opens to the public on Sunday, March 10 and will feature more than 100 works. Thursday’s lecture is free and open to the public, with priority seating for Museum members until 5:40 p.m.

Damaged Goods: SMU Meadows SYZYGY gives its first concert of the Spring 2013 season on Thursday, March 7. The performance takes the title Damaged Goods from a piece by Roshanne Etezday, which she composed as an expression of her less-than-successful relationships of the past. The ensemble make the piece their own with unique takes on lyricism, rhythmic drive and emotional yearning. The performance begins at 8 p.m. in Caruth Auditorium, Owen Arts Center, and tickets are $7 for faculty, staff and students.

The hills are alive: Meadows Opera pays tribute to American composer Richard Rodgers on Friday, Mar. 8 with performances of scenes from his best known works, as well as songs from Mary Rodgers, his daughter, and Adam Guettel, his grandson. Rodgers’ partnerships with Moss Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II produced more than 900 songs and 43 Broadway musicals. The performance starts at 1 p.m. in the Bob Hope Theatre, Owen Arts Center.

Happy Spring Break! 

March 5, 2013|Calendar Highlights|

Calendar Highlights: March 2, 2009

headshot_amity.jpgLooking back to look forward: The Spring 2009 O’Neil Lecture in Business Journalism presents a timely and provocative look at the New Deal. Author and expert in economic history Amity Shlaes will discuss the New Deal – what it did or didn’t do to revive America, and the lessons it holds for today. Shlaes will compare past efforts to the current Obama administration’s attempt to revive the U.S. economy in “Edifice Complex, 1936 and 2009: What the Great Depression Teaches About Building an Economy on Infrastructure” at 3:30 p.m. March 2 in Crum Auditorium, Collins Executive Education Center. The event is free and open to all.

ballet.jpgBallet at lunchtime: Students in the Meadows Division of Dance present lunchtime performances of 10-15 original short ballet, modern and jazz works in the Spring 2009 Brown Bag Dance Series, running from March 2-6 with performances at noon on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. All performances will be held in the Bob Hope Lobby, Owen Arts Center. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 214-768-2718.

Miguel1.jpgShared border, common interests: Clements Center Fellow Miguel Ángel González Quiroga discusses perception vs. reality in the history of border race relations in a Clements Center Brown Bag Lecture, “Conflict and Commonality in the Texas-Mexico Border Region, 1830-1880,” at noon March 3 in the Texana Room, DeGolyer Library. Bring your lunch.

Alone in the vault: The DeGolyer Library presents author, printer and bookseller Tom Taylor and “Alone in the Vault: An Initiation into the Bibliophilic Mysteries.” The lecture will take place 6:30 p.m. March 5 in the Stanley Marcus Reading Room, DeGolyer Library. A reception precedes the lecture at 6 p.m. in the Texana Room. The event is free and open to the public, registration is required.

1855_DarwinTHUMB_CC184a.jpgWhere we came from: Biologist Sean B. Carroll, who uses DNA evidence collected from modern animals to study ancient evolution, will lecture on “Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origin of Species” at 5 p.m. March 5 in McCord Auditorium, Dallas Hall. The event is part of SMU’s series “Darwin’s Evolving Legacy: Celebrating Ideas That Shape Our World.”

Celebrating Darwin’s legacy: Theodore Walker Jr., associate professor of ethics and society at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology, will speak on “Methodist Perspectives on Darwin and Creation Through Evolution” as part of the Perkins Theological School for the Laity. He will speak between 9 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. March 7 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center. The event is part of SMU’s series “Darwin’s Evolving Legacy: Celebrating Ideas That Shape Our World.” For more information, contact Pia Vogel or call 214-768-1790.

Afro-Cuban All StarsIn McFarlin Auditorium:

March 7: TITAS presents Juan de Marcos & The Afro-Cuban All Stars at 8 p.m. For tickets, call 214-528-5576.

Compiled by Theresa Nelson (’09.)

March 2, 2009|Calendar Highlights|
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