Historian Douglas Brinkley sheds light on the presidency at Fairfield University's Open VISIONS Forum September 15


As the countdown to Election Day approaches, the pressure is on for decision-making. Ever cognizant of the import of a knowledgeable electorate, Fairfield University's Open VISIONS Forum (OVF) opens the season with acclaimed historian and recognized authority on the presidency, Douglas Brinkley, Monday, Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. at the Quick Center for the Arts. This event is co-sponsored by the University's Department of History and is a collaborative partnership with the Fairfield Museum and History Center. It is the first of four OVF speaking events in the coming months leading up to the election that will examine aspects of government and policy - past and current - in preparation for the election.

Professor and Chair of the Department of History Dr. David McFadden praised Brinkley's skill calling him, "...one of the most experienced and acute historians of the American Presidency. Not only has he studied and written about numerous Presidents, but he has immersed himself in the Presidential Papers and archives of many administrations, including Secretaries of State and their diplomacy and their impact on their time. Brinkley combines serious attention to scholarship with an unparalleled ability to speak and communicate to a broader public - representing a great scholar-teacher, something we all aspire to."

Brinkley's publications include "The Reagan Diaries" (2007), which he edited, "Cowboy Conservationist: Theodore Roosevelt and the Wilderness" (to be published), "The Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter's Journey Beyond the White House" (1998), "Dean Acheson: The Cold War Years (1992) and The New York Times bestseller, "The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast" (2006), which was the recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy prize. He is the official historian for CBS News and is a contributing editor for Vanity Fair, Los Angeles Times Book Review and American Heritage. He is also a frequent contributor to The New York Times, The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly.

Michael A. Jehle, executive director of the Museum and the Fairfield Historical Society expressed enthusiasm for the like-minded goals the University shares with the Museum, "The Fairfield Museum is honored to partner with Fairfield University's Open VISIONS Forum to bring historian Douglas Brinkley to Fairfield. As community partners, the University and the Museum are committed to providing educational opportunities that help the community make informed decisions based on the insights that history has to offer. In this important presidential election year, Douglas Brinkley's lecture will provide valuable historical perspective on one of the most important decisions we make as citizens."

Brinkley is a professor of history at Rice University and a fellow at Rice's James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy. He received his doctorate in U.S. diplomatic history from Georgetown University.

As a fellow at the Baker Institute, Brinkley was tapped to analyze how presidents like Polk, McKinley, Wilson, FDR, Truman and Johnson, among others, dealt with Congress during wartime and offer his insight into the War Powers Act of 1973, a piece of legislation that indicates that the president should be required to consult with Congress before taking the nation to war. In July 2008, after soliciting Brinkley's guidance, leaders of the bipartisan National War Powers Commission, former Secretaries of State James Baker and Warren Christopher, called for scrapping the act, which they deemed impractical and ineffective. They proposed replacement legislation in the form of the War Powers Consultation Act that fosters cooperation between the White House and Congress and lays out a procedure the president must follow before sending troops into battle.

Tickets are $45 and are available online at www.fairfield.edu/openvisions or by calling the Quick Center Box Office at (203) 254-4010. The toll free number is 1-877-ARTS-396.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on August 20, 2008

Vol. 41, No. 32