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NIU to kick off lecture series featuring national political experts, former U.S. House speaker

September 5, 2012
Matthew Streb

Matthew Streb

NIU’s Department of Political Science this fall is presenting a “Presidential Speaker Series” featuring national political experts, including former U.S. Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert, to provide students, faculty and community members with unique insights on the presidential election.

“We have fascinating and well known speakers, and we’ll be talking about issues of major concern to voters, ranging from the role of money in elections to media coverage,” said Matthew Streb, chair of the Department of Political Science. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for all of our students to learn beyond the classroom and for the university to share its resources with the public.”

The series will kick off at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12, in the Altgeld Hall Auditorium, with a presentation titled, “The Impact of Citizens United: The Role of Money in the 2012 Elections.” It will feature a discussion between speakers Richard Hasen from the University of California-Irvine and Bradley Smith of the Capital University School of Law.

“Both Rick Hasen and Brad Smith are among the top election law scholars in the country,” said Streb, who will moderate the discussion.

Hasen is a nationally-recognized expert in election law and campaign finance regulation and is co-author of a leading casebook on election law. His op-eds and commentaries have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Politico and Slate. Hasen also writes the often-quoted Election Law Blog, and his newest book, The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown,” was published this summer by Yale University Press.

Smith is a former Federal Election Commission chairman and now chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics, a group that advocates for lighter regulation of campaign finance. His writings on campaign finance and other election issues have appeared in the Yale Law Journal, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review and other academic journals. As a law professor, he was a much sought-after witness in Congress on matters of campaign finance reform, and also a contributor to popular publications such as the Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

Mark Stencel

Mark Stencel

In the second installment of the Presidential Speaker Series, Mark Stencel, NPR’s managing editor for digital news, will discuss “Media Coverage and Presidential Elections” beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct 9, at the Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center. Stencel is responsible for overseeing the journalism on NPR’s website and other platforms. Since Stencel joined NPR in 2009, the network has been recognized as one of industry’s leading digital news services.

The third installment of the series will be led by Alan Abramowitz of Emory University, who will deliver a presentation titled “Predicting the 2012 Presidential Election” at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, in the Holmes Student Center Sky Room.

Abramowitz is a popular expert on national politics, polling and elections. His expertise includes election forecasting models, party realignment in the United States, congressional elections and the effects of political campaigns on the electorate.

The final installment of the Presidential Speaker Series will feature an evening with former U.S. Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert, a Republican from west suburban Yorkville, and Bill Lipinski, a Democratic member of the U.S. House from 1983 to 2005, representing a Chicago district. Moderated by Professor Streb, the post-election talk will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, in the Event Room of NIU-Naperville, with bus rides provided from DeKalb to NIU students who would like to attend.

“We’re thrilled and honored to host this discussion between two of Illinois’ most well-known and well-respected political leaders,” Streb said. “It promises to be a night filled with political insights in the wake of the presidential election.”

The Presidential Speaker Series is sponsored by the NIU Office of the President, Department of Political Science, Division of University Relations and WNIJ. More information is available online or by calling (815) 753-1011.