About the Presidential Lecture Series

The annual "Presidential Lecture Series" is one of three signature events at the Institute. Each February, the Institute presents a series of lectures that focus on the U.S. Presidency, present and past, to include presidential campaigns.

Nationally known individuals – office holders, historians, former presidential candidates, top strategists, award-winning journalists and political operatives – have contributed to the success of this recognized series.


2014 Presidential Lecture Series

The First Ladies:
Intimate Sacrifice, Honored Post

Richard Norton SmithOur 10th Anniversary celebration wouldn’t be complete without Richard Norton Smith, first director of the Dole Institute and notable presidential historian.He’s back this spring to examine the private lives and the public roles of the First Ladies and how this position has changed since Martha Washington.
The 2014 Presidential Lecture Series is sponsored in part by the William T. Kemper II Charitable Trust and Commerce Trust Company and Bob Loyd, Co-Trustees.

The First Ladies:
Intimate Sacrifice, Honored Post

Prisoners of State
Sunday, Feb. 16, 4 p.m. Dole Institute

First Ladies
Smith examines the early First Ladies. Many of these distinguished women experienced personal tragedy and paid a heavy price for their husband’s ambition.

Mary & Her Sisters

Monday, Feb. 17, 7 p.m. Dole Institute
The Gilded Age of First Ladies was a fascinating group of women. Mary Todd Lincoln was a polarizing figure in the press, Lucy Hayes became the first First Lady to graduate college, and Frances Cleveland married into the White House. Smith takes a look at their contributions to the nation.

The Wilsons & the Roosevelts
Wednesday, Feb. 26, 7 p.m. Dole Institute
Eleanor Roosevelt is credited as inventing the modern position of First Lady as we know it, but Edith Wilson certainly paved the way on her own. Why are these two women considered so instrumental in the shaping of this position?

Trailblazers & Traditionalists
Thursday, Feb. 27, 7 p.m. Dole Institute
The First Ladies of the recent past Jackie, Lady Bird, Betty, and Nancy really gave the First Lady title influence and prestige. These women were role models and style icons for the women of America and sought causes to champion in their own right.



2013 Presidential Lecture Series


Washington, Adams and Jefferson



"In the Beginning: Three Men Who Made America" Washington, Adams & Jefferson

A fascinating look at the Founding Fathers! Presidential historian and first permanent director of the Dole Institute, Richard Norton Smith, brings our first three presidents to life and helps us understand these men’s important contributions to the start of our nation.

YouTube button
Watch Washington
Feb. 10
Watch Adams
Feb. 12
Watch Jefferson
Feb 18

NOTE: Edwards Campus event Tues. Feb. 19 - Details here


2012 Presidential Lecture Series:

Presidential Lecture Series 2012 artwork"Why Presidents Succeed.
..Why They Fail."



Richard Norton Smith

Sunday, January 29, 2012

3:00 p.mRichard Norton Smith. at the Dole Institute

With the 2012 presidential contest already underway, the Dole Institute looks at what separates successful presidents from those deemed failures.
Presidential historian and first Dole Institute permanent director, Richard Norton Smith, will kick off the series with his take on this timely topic. Join Richard as he is interviewed by Dole Institute Director, Bill Lacy, on the leadership traits that create great presidents, and the mistakes that make them weak.


2012 Presidential Lecture Series CONTINUES....
Thurs., April 19 & Mon., April 23, 2012

2012 Presidential Lecture Series logoWith the 2012 presidential contest already underway, the Dole Institute’s signature series looks at what separates successful presidents from those deemed failures. 

Both Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon had significant accomplishments during their presidencies that were overshadowed by Vietnam and Watergate respectively.  What if these men had been able to avoid these stains?  Join us as we look at each man in this light.

Thursday, April 19, 7:30 p.m.
John Andrews & Lee Huebner on Nixon

What if there never was a Watergate?  This program will explore Nixon’s presidency with two speechwriters from the Nixon White House who saw these presidency-ending events from the inside.

Monday, April 23, 7:30 p.m.
Mark Updegrove on LBJ
VIDEO on YouTube
Without Vietnam would the public and historians have seen LBJ differently?  Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum director and author, Mark Updegrove, will discuss this question and his new book, Indomitable Will: LBJ in the Presidency.





2011 Presidential Lecture Series
"20th Century Mt. Rushmore"

Historian Richard Norton Smith

Join Richard Norton Smith, presidential historian and first permanent director of the Dole Institute, as he discusses his four presidential picks from the last century to place on Mt. Rushmore: Reagan, FDR, Eisenhower, & Wilson.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Smith and former Reagan Political Director, Bill Lacy, reminisced about our 40th president, Ronald Reagan.
A public reception at the Lied followed the program.
Read LJWorld coverage
VIDEO (.mov QuickTime)

Franklin D. Roosevelt
Yet another Full House!
Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Director Bill Lacy interviews Smith about the most significant Democratic president of the last century.
Read LJWorld coverage
VIDEO (.mov QuickTime)

.........................Lots of students attended this afternoon event.
Reagan at Westminster book coverFriday, February 18, 2011
Book Event: "Reagan at Westminster"

Author & KU Professor Robin Rowland discussed his new book, Reagan at Westminster, regarding President Reagan's historic speech foreshadowing the fall of the Iron Curtain. Presented as part of the Presidential Lecture Series.
VIDEO (.mov QuickTime)

Dwight Eisenhower
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
7:30 p.m. at the Dole Institute

Smith argues that Kansas' own favorite son deserves his place on the rock.
Read LJWorld coverage

VIDEO (.mov QuickTime)

Woodrow Wilson
Thursday, February 24, 2011
7:30 p.m. at the Dole Institute

Smith explains why the progressive icon is the fourth and final member of the 20th century dream team.
Read LJWorld coverage

VIDEO (.mov QuickTime)



for our Presidential Lecture Series Archive