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2018 Presidential Lecture Series — 1 to 44: The Best and the Worst of American Presidents

Presidential historian and former Dole Institute director Richard Norton Smith returns for a deep dive into presidential rankings and what they can teach us. Smith will guide the audience through an examination of the executive office from the exalted to the ignoble, with his participation in the annual C-SPAN Presidential Historians Survey serving as a backdrop. How do time and history shape our viewpoints of a president’s success or failure? A ranking is only the beginning of the story.

Ranking the Presidents
Sunday, Feb. 25  –  4 p.m.  –  Dole Institute
Time, history and context can transform our perception of a president’s leadership — both for better and for worse. After all, presidential ratings are hardly etched in stone. Smith introduces the series by examining the multiple factors that cause ratings to fluctuate like the Kansas weather in April.

Learning from Success
Tuesday, Feb. 27  –  7 p.m.  –  Dole Institute
Take a look at the faces carved on Mount Rushmore, often considered giants of the American presidency. What can we learn from these, and other, successful chief executives? Smith draws upon various examples, dissecting each for their enduring lessons and relevant qualities.

Learning from Failure
Monday, March 12  –  7 p.m.  –  Dole Institute
There is much to be learned about the presidency from both success and failure. Smith selects from a handful of less-than-stellar presidents, from James Buchanan and Franklin Pierce to Warren G. Harding and beyond, exploring what we might learn from their time in office.

Ranking the Modern Presidents, Kennedy to Obama
Wednesday, March 14 –  7 p.m.  –  Dole Institute
Using the lessons learned from the first three installments of the series, Smith will guide the audience through the highs and lows of the last 10 presidencies. Spanning over 55 years of tumultuous history, these leaders presided over critical events that continue to affect our nation today.

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