Southwestern University is pleased to welcome longtime friends Donna Brazile, Veteran Democratic Political Strategist, Adjunct Professor, Author, and Syndicated Columnist, and Mary Matalin, Celebrated Conservative Voice and Former Presidential Advisor, as our guest speakers at the 2019 Roy and Margaret Shilling Lecture, Politics Aside, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, October 4, as part of Southwestern’s Homecoming weekend. The format of the event will be a moderated discussion, with Southwestern Dean of Faculty Alisa Gaunder and members of the SU community taking part in what promises to be an enlightening and thought-provoking conversation.

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Renowned for their years of experience running federal-level political campaigns, Brazile and Matalin defy conventional tales of acrimonious bipartisanship with their long-standing friendship. Their ability to overcome partisan animus promises hope in a time of deep division. Brazile and Matalin first met in the late 1980s, when they each started working within the male-dominated inner circles of two opposing campaigns: Michael Dukakis and George H. W. Bush. They were soon drawn together by shared interests outside politics and a mutual respect born of their passion for policy. Unlike the sensationalized fights often seen on cable networks, the two regularly engage in substantive, thoughtful discussions about partisan differences in which each side learns from the other.

As friends who do not agree on the issues but value one another for the integrity of their views, Brazile and Matalin serve as exemplars of the civil discourse that Southwestern advocates among its community members. The University’s Shilling Lecture series showcases internationally prominent speakers on topics relating to ethics, public service, and public policy, and this year’s speakers epitomize the spirit of respectful engagement that is at the heart of the event. Hosting the Shilling Lecture during Southwestern’s annual Homecoming weekend will allow alumni to more closely engage in this lifelong-learning opportunity alongside current students and other members of the SU community.

“Knowledge without compassion and perspective fails to achieve its full potential and is misdirected in its goals.” —President Emeritus Roy B. Shilling Jr.

Brazile is the former chair of the Democratic National Committee and a fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy. She first became involved in politics at the age of nine, when she worked to elect a city council candidate who had promised to build a playground in her neighborhood. The candidate won, the swing set was installed, and a lifelong passion for political progress was ignited. Brazile has been a contributor to ABC News and CNN, and she has worked on every presidential campaign since 1976. In 2000, she became the first African American to serve as campaign manager for former Vice President Al Gore. She has spent a lifetime working for progressive change, responsible governance, and the advancement of all people in a society that is fair and equitable.

Matalin is one of the most celebrated and popular conservative voices in America. As an author, a television and radio host, and a widely sought-after political contributor, pundit, and public speaker, she is known for her straightforward manner and insightful political repartee. Matalin has been active in politics since college, starting at the grassroots level in local and statewide campaigns in her native Illinois. Among her many roles and accomplishments, she served under President Ronald Reagan and made her mark as George H. W. Bush’s campaign director. Most recently, she served as assistant to President George W. Bush and as assistant and counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney, making her the first White House official to hold that double title.

Drawing approximately 700 attendees to each event, the Shilling Lecture was originally established in 1999 by The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston, to honor Southwestern’s 13th president, Roy B. Shilling Jr., and his wife, Margaret. This now-biennial event provides an important forum in which the greater Southwestern University community has the opportunity to engage with ideas from multiple perspectives, hear insightful discussions, and interact on campus with experts and influential figures.