Presidential Lecture Series

A series of talks focusing on a particular aspect of U.S. political leadership, typically the U.S. Presidency. This series often features nationally-known individuals, including public servants, historians, top strategists, award-winning journalists, and political operatives.

Past Presidential Lecture Series

Where Do We Go from Here?


The Republicans: The Reagan Playbook

February 10, 2021

Presidential scholar Richard Norton Smith examines three successful Republicans, with a focus on Reagan, whose 1980 election win paved the way for a center-right nation and set the stage for the last 12-year period of one-party White House control…

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FDR Revisited: Learning from FDR, Clinton & Obama

February 17, 2021

As his administration begins, President Biden’s likely role models will be FDR, Clinton, and Obama. What can he learn from them? This event is part of the 2021 Presidential Lecture Series – Where Do We Go from Here? …

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Breaking Precedent: The Last Four Years

February 23, 2021

The last four years featured a most unconventional presidency. What has changed? What will go back to normal? This event is part of the 2021 Presidential Lecture Series – Where Do We Go from Here? …

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What I’ve Learned; Plus “Ask Richard”

March 02, 2021

In the final lecture of the series, Smith will present his checklist for a successful presidency. This program will feature an expanded audience Q&A session where the audience can ask him questions about the presidency. This event is part of the…

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Follow the Leader: Four Women’s Journeys in Public Service


Early Career: Christina Ostmeyer

February 11, 2019

A recent KU graduate and former Dole Institute Student Advisory Board student coordinator, Christina Ostmeyer will share her journey from student to nonprofit professional. Ostmeyer is communications director for Kansas Appleseed, a local nonpartisan…

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Mid-Career: Danielle Rudes

February 12, 2019

Danielle Rudes is an associate professor and the associate director of advancing correctional excellence at George Mason University. Rudes will discuss using research for the public good and how she translates her academic scholarship for both policy…

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Beyond the Career: Mary Lou Jaramillo

February 26, 2019

Mary Lou Jaramillo’s public service career spans 50 years—much of it focused on executive responsibilities for nonprofit human service organizations in the Kansas City area. She is the former executive director of El Centro in Kansas City, Kan.,…

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Established Career: Julie Robinson

March 25, 2019

Chief Judge Julie Robinson is the first African-American named to the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. A graduate of KU and KU Law, Robinson will discuss public service from the judiciary and how she mentors women to follow her lead. …

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1 to 44: The Best and the Worst of American Presidents


Ranking the Presidents

February 25, 2018

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…

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Learning from Success

February 27, 2018

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…

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Learning from Failure

March 12, 2018

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…

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Ranking the Modern Presidents, Kennedy to Obama

March 14, 2018

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…

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