NIU's Presidential Speaker Series kicks off today
DeKALB – As the presidential election enters the home stretch, a number of political experts and scholars will speak at Northern Illinois University this fall.
The speakers are a part of the “Presidential Speaker Series” hosted by NIU’s political science department. Department Chair Matthew Streb described the speaker events as a learning opportunity for not only the student body, but the rest of the community, as well.
Streb said NIU has a pool of qualified professors, but the experts who will visit have distinguished themselves on a national scale.
“They have insight a lot of our professors wouldn’t have,” Streb said.
On Wednesday, Streb will moderate a discussion between Richard Hasen from the University of California-Irvine and Bradley Smith of the Capital University School of Law.
The two electoral experts will discuss the effect of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission, which ruled that corporations and unions can spend unlimited money on electioneering communications independent of the candidates’ campaigns.
Streb described the Citizens United decision as one of the most important electoral decisions since Bush v. Gore, and today’s discussion will be an opportunity for people to listen to two experts who have different opinions on the case.
On Oct. 9, Mark Stencel, National Public Radio’s managing editor for digital news, will discuss media coverage of presidential elections.
Streb said Stencel will give an idea of how it has changed in an era of shrinking news budgets and the constant demand to report and update news via the Internet.
On Oct. 18, 19 days before the presidential election on Nov. 6, NIU will host Alan Abramowitz, a professor at Emory University in Atlanta. Streb said Abramowitz is a nationally recognized election forecaster, and he predicted his speech would be “a great hit for political junkies.”
“It will be a fun event, talking about as to why so-and-so is going to win,” Streb said.
The series will conclude Nov. 8 with a post-election talk with two former Illinois congressmen, Republican Dennis Hastert, former U.S. Speaker of the House of Yorkville, and Democrat Bill Lipinski, who represented a Chicago-area district from 1983 to 2005.
Streb said Hastert and Lipinski would be able to give insight on what happens next from a Washington perspective.
Streb also noted that the Hastert-Lipinski talk would be the only one not held at NIU in DeKalb. That talk is slated for NIU’s Naperville campus.