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

Sixth Floor Museum

‘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|

SMU & Sixth Floor Museum explore role of politics in history

President John F. Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy

Three preeminent scholars of American history, including an SMU professor, will use Presidents Day and the upcoming 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination as a springboard for examining the changing nature of memory.

Presidential historian Jeffrey Engel, director of SMU’s Center for Presidential History, will moderate a discussion of “JFK, History and the Politics of Memory.” The event takes place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, in The Sixth Floor Museum at 411 Elm Street in Dallas’ West End District. It is presented by The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza and SMU’s John G. Tower Center for Political Studies and The Center for Presidential History.

The program features Edward T. Linenthal, professor of history at Indiana University Bloomington, and Timothy Naftali, senior research fellow with the New America Foundation’s National Security Studies program, both of whom have written extensively on the topic.

The 50th anniversary of the assassination presents a unique opportunity to reflect upon the changing nature of history and how it affects our own recollections and understanding of milestones. How has politics shaped our collective memory about this crucial 20th century event?  How has our thinking about the tragedy been shaped by the media, ongoing investigations and the passage of time?  What does this process tell us about what we choose to remember, what we forget and what we ultimately memorialize? Together the historians will explore the role that the politics of memory play in understanding the past.

“JFK, History and the Politics of Memory” is the first in a yearlong series of collaborative programs between The Sixth Floor Museum and SMU commemorating the assassination’s anniversary. This is the third consecutive year both have partnered to present a panel discussion surrounding Presidents Day.

Tickets are $25 per person. A combination ticket that provides access to The Sixth Floor Museum on the day of the event is $35. Tickets may be purchased online at www.jfk.org through Sunday, Feb. 17.

Seating is limited. For more information, visit www.jfk.org or call 214-747-6660.

> Read more from SMU News

February 12, 2013|Calendar Highlights, News|

Calendar Highlights: Oct. 6, 2009

The 1931 Titanic Memorial in Washington, D.C.Wendland-Cook Professorship Inaugural Lecture: SMU’s Perkins School of Theology commemorates the establishment of the Wendland-Cook Professorship in Constructive Theology with a lecture by the first faculty member to hold that position. Joerg Rieger will discuss “Speaking Truth to Power – With a Twist: Re-envisioning the Task of Theology and the Academy” at 5 p.m. Oct. 8 in the Great Hall of Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall, followed by a reception in the Kirby Hall Parlor. Free and open to the public.

“Holocaust Legacies” lecture: Author and University of Pittsburgh Professor of Art History Kirk Savage (Monument Wars: Washington, D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape) will explore the achievements and pitfalls of the victim monument, which has come to rival the hero monuments of old. “Beyond the Victim Monument” begins at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 8 in Dallas’ Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. Co-sponsored by the Division of Art History in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, the Dallas Holocaust Museum and The Sixth Floor Museum. Free and open to the public; tickets required. For more information, call 214-768-2698; for tickets, call 214-768-2787. (Right, the Titanic Memorial on Washington, D.C.’s southwest waterfront, originally erected in 1931.)

'The Blood of Jesus' theatrical posterScreening a classic: Friends of the SMU Libraries/Colophon and the Hamon Arts Library present a free screening of Spencer Williams’ 1941 classic, The Blood of Jesus, Oct. 8 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater. Made specifically for African-American audiences in segregated movie theaters, the film was placed in the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1991. The event begins with a reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by the screening at 7 p.m. and a panel discussion moderated by SMU Professor of Cinema-TV Rick Worland at 8 p.m. Arrive early – seating is first-come, first-served and not guaranteed. For more information, call 214-768-3225 or visit smu.edu/friends.

Clubhouse Lunch: The SMU Faculty Club hosts a Clubhouse Lunch with Hector Rivera, director of the Center for Child and Community Development in the University’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, at noon Oct. 14 in the Faculty Club. Rivera will speak on “Integrating English Language Learners Into Our Schools – What Do We Need to Know?” Lunch is $5; attendees are welcome to bring their own.

October 6, 2009|Calendar Highlights|
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