Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough honored with SMU’s 2015 Tower Medal of Freedom

George W Bush, David McCullough, Laura Bush, Jeanne Tower Cox, and Penny Tower Cook
(l. to r.) President George W. Bush, David McCullough, First Lady Laura Bush, SMU trustee Jeanne Tower Cox and her sister, Penny Tower Cook.

Historian David McCullough received the Medal of Freedom from SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015.

President and Mrs. George W. Bush presented the award to the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, often called “America’s greatest historian,” during an event held at the home of Kelli and Gerald J. Ford. The evening’s highlights included a featured conversation between McCullough and his longtime friend, former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY).

McCullough also spoke to the SMU campus community at a question-and-answer session earlier in the day moderated by Tower Center Scholar Sara Jendrusch in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater.

The award is given by the Tower Center every two years to an individual or individuals who have contributed to the advancement of democratic ideals and to the security, prosperity and welfare of humanity.

McCullough, who said he had “always been impressed with SMU,” quizzed his audience of SMU students, faculty and staff and expressed approval that taking history is an SMU graduation requirement. “I was stunned to learn that something like 80 percent of colleges these days don’t require it,” he said.

> Read David McCullough’s advice on writing at Overheard @ SMU

The historian said he has about 25 more book ideas he’d like to see in print. He credited much of his success to the editing skills of his wife, Rosalee, “my editor-in-chief for 50 years.” He spoke lovingly about the craft of writing and confessed that he still composes his work using technology now consigned to history for most people – a 1960s typewriter.

And history, McCullough said, is how you make life matter.

“It’s not a series of chronological events. It’s human,” McCullough said. “That’s why Jefferson wrote, ‘When in the course of human events…” in the Declaration of Independence.”

> Read the full story at SMU News

Co-founders of the Campaign to Fix the Debt, Erskine Bowles
and Alan Simpson, deliver final Tate Lecture of 2013

Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, co-founders of the Campaign to Fix the Debt, will be at SMU Tuesday, Dec. 3 to deliver the final lecture of the Tate Distinguished Lecture Series for 2013. They will give the Omni Hotels Lecture at 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium.

BowlesErskine Bowles started his career in financial services. He worked for numerous venture and private equity firms and even founded the firm, Bowles, Hollowell and Conner. In 1991, he joined the administration of President Bill Clinton as Administrator of the Small Business Administration and went on to serve as Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff and later as White House Chief of Staff from 1997-98. Bowles is credited with negotiating the first balanced budget in a generation during his time at the White House.

Follow Bowles & Simpson on Twitter

SimpsonAlan Simpson comes from a legacy of law; after his honorable discharge from the Army in 1956 he practiced law for 18 years at his father’s firm, Simpson, Kepler and Simpson. He went on to serve as City Attorney of Cody, Wyoming for 10 years and in 1964 he was elected state representative for his native Park County in the Wyoming State Legislature. Simpson continued his political career and served three terms in the United States Senate from 1978-97.

In 2010 Barack Obama asked Bowles and Simpson to co-chair the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. The bipartisan commission produced a plan to reduce the Nation’s deficits by $4 trillion over the next decade. The two men then co-founded the Campaign to Fix the Debt, a non-partisan movement to put America on a better fiscal and economic path. Bowles and Simpson will be speaking of this current project at Tuesday’s Tate.

Learn more about the Campaign to Fix the Debt

Bowles graduated from UNC and received his M.B.A. degree from Columbia University. He is noted for coordinating the federal response to the Oklahoma City bombing and in 2004  joined the United National Deputy Special Envoy to coordinate the global response to the Indian Ocean tsunami. He is married and has three children and nine grandchildren. Two of his sons dealt with juvenile diabetes, leading to Bowles’ involvement in the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, including service as its national president.

Simpson received his bachelor’s and J.D. degrees from the University of Wyoming. Before accepting his current position, he was a visiting lecturer and taught a class part-time with his brother at the University of Wyoming. He wrote the book Right in the Old Gazoo: A Lifetime of Scrapping with the Press and is the subject of a biography entitled Shooting from the Lip. He is married and has three children and six grandchildren.

Tuesday’s evening lecture is sold out, but SMU students may attend for free with their University ID if seats become available; meet in the basement of McFarlin Auditorium at 7 p.m.

Bowles and Simpson will answer questions from University community members and local high school students in the Turner Construction/Wells Fargo Student Forum at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom. The Forum is free, but seating is limited. SMU faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend; RSVP online to ensure a place.

To ask the men a question via Twitter, send a tweet to @SMUtate with @BowlesSimpson and the hashtag #SMUtate.

The Tate Distinguished Lecture Series will return in 2014 with Khaled Hosseini on Tuesday, Feb. 11.

Tate Distinguished Lecture Series announces 2013-14 season

SMU Tate microphoneSMU’s 32nd season of the Tate Distinguished Lecture Series features events such as a national security discussion with two former U.S. Secretaries of Defense; an award-winning presidential biographer on John F. Kennedy’s legacy 50 years after his assassination; an examination of the national debt by the men who created the Bowles-Simpson deficit plan; and an evening with the “Founding Mothers” of National Public Radio.

All lectures take place at 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium.

The upcoming season at a glance:

For more information, visit the Tate Distinguished Lecture Series website.