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Richard Norton Smith returns to Grand Rapids

Posted on October 10, 2007

Award-winning presidential historian Richard Norton Smith will visit Grand Rapids as a Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies Scholar-in-Residence.

Smith will give seven talks on American presidents from October 21-24. The first six speeches will be held at Grand Valley State University’s Pew Grand Rapids Campus. The final lecture will be at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum (see full schedule below).

“There’s no excuse for a dull book, a dull museum or a dull speech, especially when dealing with history — the most fascinating subject I know,” said Smith.

Smith’s accounts of presidential history have made him a familiar face to viewers of C-SPAN, as well as The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, where he appears regularly as part of the show’s round table of historians. As founding director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, and before that as director of the Hoover, Eisenhower, Reagan and Ford libraries, Smith has introduced millions of visitors to a history rarely, if ever, glimpsed in textbooks.

Scheduled talks:

Sunday, Oct. 21, 4 p.m., Loosemore Auditorium: Presidents at War. (There is a $10 charge to attend this event. Students under 25 with student ID and driver’s license get in free. All other events are free.)

Monday, Oct. 22, 11 a.m., Loosemore Auditorium: Like Father, Like Son: The Adamses of Massachusetts
Monday, Oct. 22, 2 p.m., Loosemore Auditorium: Presidential Lies

Tuesday, October 23, 11 a.m., Loosemore Auditorium: Three for Virginia: Jefferson, Madison and Monroe
Tuesday, October 23, 2 p.m., Loosemore Auditorium: Calvin, We Hardly Knew Ye

Wednesday, October 24, 11 a.m., Meijer Regency Room, GVSU: The Odd Couple: Hoover and Truman
Wednesday, October 24, 7:30 p.m., Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum: Gerald Ford of Michigan

Smith graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1975 with a degree in government. Following graduation he worked as a White House intern before becoming a speech writer for Massachusetts Sen. Edward Brooke. Two years later he went to work for Sen. Bob Dole, with whom he has since collaborated on three books. 

As director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation in Simi Valley, California, he oversaw the renovation of museum exhibits and the organizing of several major conferences and other programs. He performed similar functions for five and a half years, beginning in March 1996, as director of the Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum.  

In April, 2006, Smith joined the faculty of George Mason University in Washington D.C., where he holds the title Scholar-in-Residence. Besides teaching courses on the American presidency, he is presently at work on a biography of New York Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller, based on thousands of pages of previously unavailable documents, and more than 150 interviews with Rockefeller associates.

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