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PRESIDENTIAL LECTURE SERIES | The Craft of the Presidential Speechwriter

February 11 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Dr. Craig Smith served as a full-time speechwriter for President Gerald Ford, as a consulting writer to George H. W. Bush and as a consultant to CBS News for convention, election, and inaugural coverage. He has also explored presidential speeches as a Professor at Cal State Long Beach. Dr. Smith will engage in a dialogue about speechwriting, presidential and otherwise, sharing his unique knowledge as an award-winning scholar and also a renowned practitioner, who can provide an inside perspective on the role played by the speechwriter, how that role varies with different presidents, and how speechwriting has evolved. 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 will include a book sale and signing.

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

Dr. Craig R. Smith has won the Ehninger Award for contributions to rhetorical theory and the Gronbeck Award for political communication, both from the National Communication Association. He has won that organization’s Robert O’Neil Award three times for scholarly papers on the First Amendment. He has won the Outstanding Professor Award from the National Speakers Association. After completing a Ph.D., Dr. Smith taught at San Diego State University, the University of Virginia, and the University of Alabama Birmingham, where he founded the Communication Studies Department. He also served as a full-time speechwriter for President Gerald Ford, as a consulting writer to George H. W. Bush and as a consultant to CBS News for convention, election, and inaugural coverage. He served as founding president of the Freedom of Expression Foundation in Washington, D.C. from 1983 to 1988. He then became a full professor at California State University, Long Beach until he retired in 2015. He has published 18 books and over 65 scholarly articles


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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