Pulitzer-winning journalist Bob Woodward, whose coverage of the Watergate scandal for the Washington Post ended the Nixon presidency, spoke to a King Chapel crowd of more than 700 about his three decades reporting on the White House.
His lecture, “Bush at War,” is also the title of his best-selling 2002 book, which examines the Bush administration’s actions in the 100 days following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The lecture came barely a month before the release of his latest book, Plan of Attack, about the Bush administration’s decision to wage war against Iraq.
For Bush at War Woodward discovered through interviews with Bush and his lieutenants that the president, shortly before his inauguration, was warned of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida, but did nothing. After 9/11, Bush’s new attitude toward threats contributed to his treatment of Saddam Hussein, Woodward said. “In our own personal lives, our mistakes and failures guide us more than successes,” Woodward told the Cornell crowd.
Woodward was the inaugural speaker in Cornell’s Delta Phi Rho Lecture series. (See Cornell Report cover story on endowments.) The next speaker will be Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek International editor, on Nov. 9, 2005.
Zakaria writes a column that appears in the national edition of Newsweek, Newsweek International, and often The Washington Post, making it one of the most widely circulated columns of its kind in the world. He offers political analysis on ABC News programs, including “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” where he serves as a regular roundtable member.
Out of Iraq
Three alumni serving and working in Iraq who were featured in the winter Cornell Report have since returned to the States.
Leland “Lee” Bowie ’61 is preparing to teach Middle East history at the Philadelphia suburban campus of Penn State University in the fall. He had been working with the Baghdad city council to build a democracy. In the three months before his departure he was directing a training center in Baghdad City Hall.
“I resigned in late April when they started kidnapping civilians off the street,” he says. “It was a very difficult decision to leave because I enjoyed what I was doing and worked very closely with American and Iraqi colleagues. My Iraqi assistant who has now taken over as director of the center has been threatened several times, but he is courageously continuing the work there.”
Lt. Col. George Krivo ’84 is back at the Pentagon as special assistant for the Chief of Staff of the Army. “I love working in Washington during election years—and I thought that I was leaving the combat zone when I left Iraq!” he says. He had been chief spokesman for coalition forces in Iraq.
John “Jay” Rowland ’03 returned home to Bettendorf, Iowa, in late June after his unit, the Iowa National Guard’s Detachment 1, Company F, 106th Aviation, was released from duty. He had been activated in February 2003. He’s returning to his job as territory sales manager for Philip Morris.
Following his lecture to more than 700 people in King Chapel, journalist Bob Woodward visited with audience members and signed copies of his books at a reception in Cole Library.
Historian details slavery’s impact
Historian and Pulitzer-winning author Garry Wills delivered the 2004 Eric C. Kollman Memorial Lecture during Black History Month. He was the 13th speaker in the series and the first to address the topic of slavery, in “The Burden of Slavery in American History.”
An adjunct professor of history at Northwestern University, Wills has written more than two dozen books, including his latest, “Negro President”: Jefferson and the Slave Power, on which his lecture was based.
Wills said slavery was not solely a problem of the South. “It was a national sin,” he said, echoing President Lincoln’s claim, because of the political system operating to protect slavery, and the politicians who supported it.
Holocaust speaker advocates action
William Parsons ’67, chief of staff of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, challenged Cornellians to get involved in preventing large-scale genocide, and suggested several ways to do so.
Students can volunteer to research the stories of people in countries where genocide is occurring, and this information can be used to rescue them. Students can take oral histories, or write letters and e-mails to governments, the United Nations, and other human rights organizations.
“It’s easy to save a life, and research will help protect people,” he said.
Parsons, recipient of Cornell’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 2002, spoke at several area colleges and a church for Holocaust remembrance events in April. In addition to his lecture at Cornell, he addressed a politics class studying U.S. foreign policy.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Garry Wills visits with Gusti Kollman after he delivered the Eric C. Kollman Memorial Lecture, which honors her late husband and Cornell history professor.
Sophomore Darius Ballard has a trophy at his suburban Milwaukee home that few students can claim: an Emmy Award.
He earned a regional Emmy for his work as assistant producer on a segment of “Gumbo Television,” a teen version of “20/20” that airs on a network affiliate in Milwaukee. In high school, Ballard worked on “Gumbo” and its predecessor, “Teen Forum,” which ran for 12 years and was also an Emmy winner. Both shows are produced by high school students enrolled in Milwaukee’s Strive Media Institute.
Graduates of Strive have gone on to work for ABC News, the “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Black Entertainment Television, and CNN. Ballard hopes someday to do video documentary work, and then become a teacher.
The Emmy-winning show he helped produce included an interview with South African archbishop Desmond Tutu and a segment featuring the NBA’s Mike Wilks, a Milwaukee native with the Houston Rockets.
Cornell sophomore Darius Ballard (left) poses with friend Sable Nelson and her mother, Karen, at the Emmy Award ceremony in Chicago last November. Ballard was assistant producer of a Milwaukee teen television show awarded a regional Emmy.