Hofstra University kicked off its 13th presidential conference, with the title of “The Barack Obama Presidency: Hope and Change,” on Wednesday, April 19.
During the conference, scholars, policy makers, journalists and other experts come together to discuss and debate the Obama administration.
This three-day event consists of forum discussions, speaker panels, scholarly paper presentations and a keynote address on Wednesday night. Topics such as the former president’s campaign, political leadership, policy agenda, legacy, relationship with the media and more will be covered throughout the course of the conference.
Hofstra has hosted a presidential conference about each of the administrations since the university’s establishment – from Frank Delano Roosevelt to Barack Obama.
“Hofstra University takes great honor in this tradition of hosting presidential conferences,” said Hofstra President Susan Poser in a statement. “Since the first one in 1982, the conferences have provided Hofstra students, faculty, and the general public opportunities to meet and learn directly from those who have had a hand in shaping our nation’s history.”
Through anecdotes and stories from people close to the president, the conference offers new, and sometimes hilarious, insight into the Obama presidency.
John Harwood, CNBC chief White House correspondent during the administration, recalled during a panel on media coverage of the Obama presidency an interview with the then president where a fly kept buzzing around his head. At one point the fly landed on Obama’s hand, and he smacked it – killing it – and said, “Got the sucker.”
Keynote speaker Melissa Harris-Perry, a well-known political science researcher and professor, knew Obama before he became president of the United States, and she had some pretty funny stories to tell about him.
“[Obama] gave the Martin Luther King address at the University of Chicago. It was bad. It was boring. Very policy, very boring,” she said. “And then the next year I happened to give that speech, and mine was great.”
“The Barack Obama Presidency: Hope and Change” conference is put together by the Hofstra Cultural Center, the Peter S. Kalikow School of Government, Public Policy and International Affairs and the Peter S. Kalikow Center for the Study of the American Presidency, along with the Barack Obama Presidential Library, National Archives and Records Administration, and the Obama Foundation.
In conjunction with the conference, the Hofstra University Museum of Art Filderman Gallery has been displaying a gallery of the same name since February, and it will be up through May 15. The exhibition contains photographs, documents and items related to the 2008 and 2012 presidential debates – which were hosted at Hofstra – relating to the Obama presidency.
A schedule of events and the option to livestream or watch replays of some of the panels can be found online.