A talk from the CEO of the Sporting Kansas City soccer team, a historian’s take on our first three presidents and a debate over last year’s state tax cuts are among the items on tap at Kansas University’s Dole Institute of Politics during the spring semester.
The Dole Institute has released information on several events coming up during February and March, and Director Bill Lacy said he expects many of them to draw sizable crowds.
“I have trouble picking favorites here,” Lacy said.
Sporting KC CEO and co-owner Robb Heineman is familiar with big crowds, as his Major League Soccer club sold out 16 of its 17 home matches in 2012.
He’ll visit the Dole Institute in March for a talk about how he used a nontraditional sports business model to spur the team to success.
“Sporting KC is really a very unique case study of making the soccer business work in the United States,” Lacy said.
Heineman’s event, called “Reinventing the Empire,” will be at 7:30 p.m. March 5 at the Dole Institute, 2350 Petefish Drive on KU’s West Campus.
Coming in February will be a more familiar face around the Dole Institute: Richard Norton Smith, a presidential historian who was the institute’s first permanent director before leaving in 2003.
Since then, he has visited several times for talks about past U.S. presidents. His stories are crowd-pleasers, Lacy said: He gave a series of four talks in 2011, and three of them drew full-house crowds (the fourth took place during a blizzard).
This year, he’ll present three talks, one each on the country’s first three presidents: George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
“There’s been so much renewed interest over the last few years in the founders,” Lacy said.
He’ll discuss Washington at 4 p.m. Feb. 10, Adams at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12 and Jefferson at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18.
Later in February at the institute will be an examination of more recent history: the state income tax cuts signed into law last year by Gov. Sam Brownback.
In “Kansas’ New Tax Policy: Boom or Bust?” Kansas Secretary of Revenue Nick Jordan will argue in favor of the cuts, while state Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, will argue against them. The event will be at 4 p.m. Feb. 24.
“I think it’s going to be fascinating because there are very, very strong opinions on this issue,” Lacy said.
But Lacy, who will moderate the debate, also said he expects it to prove that passionate people can discuss divisive issues in a civil and respectful way.
Another event in March is a collaboration with Kansas Public Radio, in celebration of KPR’s 60th anniversary. NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley will visit, and Lacy will interview him about the 2012 presidential campaign. The event will be at 7:30 p.m. March 12.
Panelists at the institute’s Post-Election Conference in December already broke down the political lessons of the election, Lacy said, so his questions to Horsley will focus more on the experience of a journalist covering the campaign.
Two other upcoming Dole Institute events:
• "Inspiring MLK: The Mentorship of Benjamin Elijah Mays," 7:30 p.m. Feb. 5: Randal Jelks, an associate professor of American studies at KU, will speak about Mays, a scholar whom Martin Luther King Jr. called his spiritual mentor. Jelks published a biography on Mays, "Benjamin Elijah Mays: Schoolmaster of the Movement," last year, and he will sign copies.
• "Empowering and Sustaining Malawi: Africa Windmill Project," 7:30 p.m. March 26: John Drake will discuss his work with the African Windmill Project, which helps provide farmers in Malawi with sustainable agriculture and clean drinking water, and talk about how to get involved.
Two ongoing series are also coming up at the Dole Institute, both related to the military:
• Retired Brig. Gen. Roosevelt Barfield, a spring 2013 fellow at the institute, will lead a study group on political-military strategy on the following Wednesdays: Feb. 13, 20 and 27, March 6, 13 and 27 and April 3.
• The institute's Fort Leavenworth Series, featuring scholars from the military history department at the fort's Command and General Staff College, in 2013 will examine pieces of World War II history, including tactics and policy, the role of female service members and the bombing of Japan. Events will be at 3 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month, from February through November.