Gingrich and Powell to Speak at Colgate This Spring

This coming March, two former U.S. politicians will brave the unpredictable upstate weather to come speak at Colgate. Over the course of nine days, Colgate University will host both Newt Gingrich and Colin Powell, easily two of the most prominent political figures this generation has ever seen.

Newt Gingrich will give a public lecture sponsored by the Center for Freedom & Western Civilization on March 26 at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Chapel. The former House Speaker (R-GA) and conservative figurehead is known especially for his role in crafting the 1994 “Contract with America,” a document which facilitated the so-called “Republican Revolution” during the Clinton administration and saw the election of a Republican majority in Congress for the first time in 40 years.

Having established the think tank American Solutions since his 1999 resignation as Speaker of the House, Gingrich is first and foremost an “ideas man,” so described by Professor of Political Science Robert Kraynak. Kraynak arranged Gingrich’s visit to campus in his capacity as Director and Co-Founder of Colgate’s Center for Freedom & Western Civilization, which was chartered in 2004 to promote intellectual diversity by presenting a “conservative voice” on campus. The Center has sponsored numerous lectures and events on campus over the years in the interest of counterbalancing “what many people regard as a liberal bias or one-sided view of things,” Kraynak said.

To that end, Kraynak and the Center have given Mr. Gingrich’s lecture the tentative title “President Obama and the American Future” and expect the former Speaker to give his conservative assessment of the Obama administration and its policies. The talk will then segue into a discussion of the larger question of America’s place in the world.

“Everyone is going to be interested in [Gingrich’s] views on Obama,” Kraynak said, “but we are also interested in these big pictures. Is America headed for decline or prosperity in the next ten years?”

Colin Powell will also be giving a public talk sponsored by the Global Leaders Lecture Series on April 3 at 8:00 p.m. in the Sanford Field House. The retired four-star general served in the United States government as President George W. Bush’s Secretary of State from 2001-2005 and is also the first African-American to have served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, of which he was Chairman from 1989 to 1993. While few details have been released regarding the topic of Powell’s lecture, Alumni Affairs Director of the Parents’ Fund and Special Events Mari Assaid explained that its title is, tentatively, “Diplomacy: Persuasion, Trust and Values.”

Assaid did not confirm whether Powell would discuss the presidency of Barack Obama, for whom he crossed party lines to issue a controversial endorsement in September of last year, but Professor Kraynak offered his thoughts in the event that such material is covered.

“My guess is we will get two different viewpoints,” Kraynak said, “that Gingrich’s will be respectful but will be critical in some way and that Powell’s will probably be a kind of argument for, in defense of [President Obama].”

Regardless of the speakers’ range of topics, having both Gingrich and Powell on campus is sure to put Colgate at the center of an important political discourse and should be just enough to hold us through these last weeks of winter.