Hofstra hosts last day of Obama conference

Hofstra hosts last day of Obama conference
From left to right, Meena Bose, Valerie Jarrett and Douglas Brinkley discuss the legacy of the Obama administration. (Photo by Annabel Hofmann)

Hofstra University wrapped up “The Barack Obama Presidency: Hope and Change,” its 13th presidential conference, Friday. The three-day event, held in various theaters throughout the campus in Hempstead concluded with more scholarly panels, round table discussions, a mock debate by the Hofstra Speech and Debate team and a closing reception.

Four members of the Hofstra debate team presented an evaluation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, via a mock debate.

Team members Favour Chibuzo-Enwere, Tess Kaus, Kyle Mastroni and Alondra Padilla presented the pros and cons of the Affordable Care Act via oral arguments and cross examinations.

Charlie Riordan, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, was impressed and praised the team.

“You set a bar very high for the plenary coming up later today to talk about the Affordable Care Act,” he told the team. “So with some of those panelists here, they know they better be bringing their A-game to try to compete with you.”

One of those panelists was Nancy-Ann DeParle, assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for policy from 2011-13 and counselor to the president and director of the White House office of health reform from 2009-11.

She was joined by Kate Leone, who held several positions within Senate offices and committees; Wendell Primus, senior policy adviser on budget and health issues to then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi from 2005-23; and Philip Schiliro, presidential fellow in Hofstra’s Peter S. Kalikow School of Government, Public Policy and International Affairs and the president’s adviser for the Affordable Care Act and health policy from 2013-14.

The panelists discussed all aspects of the Affordable Care Act, from the legislative process to Obama’s role and more.

The final academic event of the conference was a plenary forum called “Evaluating the Legacy of the Obama Presidency.” The featured speaker was Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the president and director of the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs from 2009-17.

As someone in the administration very close to Obama, Jarrett offered deep insights into how he approached the role of the presidency.

“I think the basic human being is who he is,” she said. “He’s curious. He’s a good listener. He believed in encouraging his team to push him to make sure he made not just the best decision but the most informed decision.”

As the conference came to an end, Riordan looked back on the successes of the past three days.

“I just have to stand up here and take a brief moment of tremendous pride in our institution,” he said. “The last several days have just [had] remarkable conversations, wide-ranging discussions from all points of view – which we certainly welcome and celebrate – and a special congratulations and shout-out to each of our panelists. Many of them have been here for multiple days and have been very gracious with their time, not only on the panels but with our students.”

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