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PRESIDENTIAL LECTURE SERIES | Comparing and Contrasting Two Powerfully Eloquent Presidents—Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama

February 18, 2020 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm


Reagan and Obama. Conventional wisdom would contend that these two presidents had little in common. The actor versus the scholar. The grandfather versus the father. The Republican versus the Democrat.

Presidential rhetoric scholar Dr. Robert C. (Robin) Rowland, of the department of Communication Studies at KU, has written extensively about the rhetoric of both President Ronald Reagan and President Barack Obama. Rowland, who presented the keynote on rhetoric at the Reagan Centennial celebration at USC and the Reagan Library and has won national awards for his research in both rhetoric and argumentation, argues that the rhetoric of Reagan and Obama is more similar than has been recognized. In a dialogue, Rowland will explore the similarities and differences between the rhetoric of Reagan and Obama. This series is co-sponsored by the University of Kansas Department of Communication Studies, the Department of History, and the Department of Political Science.

This program is free and open to the public. No ticket is required.


Dr. Rowland’s major teaching and research interests are in rhetorical criticism, argumentation, and the public sphere. Dr. Rowland and his debate colleague were the 1976 National Debate Champions for KU. He is a former director of forensics at KU and at Baylor University. Dr. Rowland received the Louise Byrd Award for Graduate Teaching in May 2000. He also is a recipient of the William T. Kemper Teaching Fellowship and the Bernard Fink Award for outstanding teaching, and is a two-time HOPE Award finalist. He also has received an Outstanding Service Award from the Kansas Bar Association based on his work in Continuing Legal Education on legal advocacy. In November 2006, he was honored by the National Communication Association with the Donald H. Ecroyd Award for Outstanding Teaching in Higher Education. The same organization honored him in 2011 with the Douglas W. Ehninger Rhetorical Scholar Award. He is one of two people in the discipline to be honored with lifetime awards for scholarship and teaching. His co-authored book with David Frank, Shared Land/Conflicting Identity in 2002 was honored in 2003 with the Kohrs-Campbell prize

The Presidential Lecture Series

Each Spring, the Dole Institute presents a series of programs focusing on a particular aspect of U.S. political leadership, typically the U.S. Presidency. These events feature nationally-known individuals, including public servants, historians, top strategists, award-winning journalists, and political operatives. This year’s Presidential Lecture Series, created and developed by award-winning presidential rhetoric scholar Dr. Robert Rowland, focuses on presidential speeches and rhetoric, from the greatest speeches, to the process of speechwriting, to changes in presidential rhetoric in the age of social media. Join us for this compelling journey through the words that defined presidencies.

Accessibility: Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend University of Kansas sponsored events. If you require a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this event, please contact the Dole Institute of Politics at least four business days prior to the event date by calling (785) 864-4900 or emailing To learn more about accessible offerings at the institute, please click here.

Parking: The Dole Institute is located in KU’s West District, just west of the Lied Center of Kansas. Plentiful free parking is available in the adjoining lot. No permit is required.

Video: A free live stream of this event will be available through the institute’s YouTube channel. Following the conclusion of the program, the event will be archived to YouTube. If any technical issues occur, the video will be re-uploaded within two to three business days.

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