Pulitzer- prize winner visits campus


Tamonda GriffithsNews Writer

Pultizer-prize winner Doris Kearns Goodwin said she has written several books before about former presidents and was happy to finally write a book with all “her guys” in one.

“Each time I moved from one president to the next,” said Goodwin, “I always felt a little guilty, as if I were betraying an old boyfriend.”

On Nov. 3, Goodwin, an author and historian, came to the Lyman Center to promote her new book, “Leadership in Turbulent Times.”

In her new book, Goodwin examined the parallels between former presidents Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Goodwin said she decided to look at each of “her guys” in a new way; “the lens of leadership.”

Goodwin said she has been interested in and had been lecturing about leadership for decades. She said she often questioned if leaders were born to lead or circumstances had forced them to lead.

Goodwin said she “found no master recipe for leadership,” but she did find similar characteristics, “a family resemblance” that each president shared.

Some of which included humility, empathy, resilience, courage, the ability to listen to opposing ideas and control negative impulses, according to Goodwin, and the ability to connect with different types of people, to communicate through storytelling and to keep their promises.

Goodwin said she believes these traits are relevant in any profession, not solely in politics.

Ian Bergemann, Student Government Association representative-at-large, spoke with Goodwin before the official start of the event. He said Goodwin explained and gave solutions on how to handle “today’s political crisis.”

During the lecture, Goodwin said the turbulence and division in today’s political climate

are not lost on her, however when she wrote “Leadership in Turbulent Times” she had no idea how appropriate the title would be.

“We can get some solace from history I believe,” said Goodwin. “People often ask me ‘Are these the worst of time?’ And the reassuring answer the history provides is no.”

Goodwin said the U.S. has been through far worse historical events than “our current uncivil, polarized climate” and has become a stronger nation because of it.

She said through loss, failure, stories and new experiences each of the former presidents had were the foundations to lead the U.S. through some of the hardest and darkest of times.

“They all made themselves leaders,” said Goodwin.

When he introduced her, President Joe Bertolino referred to Goodwin as “America’s presidential historian-in-chief.”

She said her love of history came from her the courses they are transferring end up being credit for elective or cognate courses – which are still a part of a 120-credit bachelor’s degree, she said.

Bennett said as an LEP director she looks to see if the courses a student is trying to transfer “meets the same objectives” of the LEP requirements, while individual department chairs look at whether or not the course description and standards match up with what is offered at Southern.

Bennett said the university has tried to minimize this loss of credits by taking into account the course-by-course evaluations taken by students every semester.

As a faculty representative for TAP’s Framework Implementation and Review Committee, Bennett said she and the other 16 representatives from the other CSCU institutions work to educate their campus’ faculty and staff to ensure the pathway agreement is maintained and is mapped out in degree evaluations.

One such office that will work alongside Bennett, is the upcoming Office of

parents. Her mother, who had rheumatic fever as a child and was “essentially an invalid,” said Goodwin, whose mother had an eighth-grade education throughout Goodwin’s childhood.

“Books took her to another world…,” said Goodwin.

She would ask her mother a lot of questions about her girlhood and became “obsessed” with hearing her stories in hopes her memories would take control of her body and allow her to be a child again, she said.

“Her love of storytelling and books became the anchor of my life,” said Goodwin.

Goodwin said her father contributed to her love of storytelling by teaching her at the age of six, the “mysterious art of keeping score” while listening to baseball games.

She said she would recount Brooklyn Dodger games to her father every night in “excruciating detail,” although he could have read it in the sports pages of the newspaper the following day.

“He made me feel I was telling him a fabulous story,” said Goodwin. “It makes you think there’s something magical about history, even if the history is only a five-hour-old game.”

Photo Credit: Tamonda Griffiths

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