USC was honored to host the 43rd President and former first lady through the President’s Distinguished Lecture series.
President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush addressed USC guests, students, faculty and Widney Society members in a packed Bovard Auditorium on Nov. 19.
Sponsored by the University of Southern California’s President’s Distinguished Lecture series, the event featured a conversation between President and Mrs. Bush facilitated by James G. Ellis, dean of the USC Marshall School of Business.
USC President C. L. Max Nikias welcomed the audience and introduced the first couple.
“It is a rare opportunity to spend this evening in the company of two people who have practiced leadership on such a global stage, at such pivotal moments in human history,” Nikias said. “Few people have carried the cosmic sense of pressure and responsibility on their shoulders that our former President and First Lady have.”
In appearing at Bovard, President and Mrs. Bush continued a long tradition of USC campus visits by former or sitting presidents, including Presidents Obama, Reagan, Ford and George H.W. Bush.
The 43rd President spoke with candor about a range of topics, including the September 11 attacks, his foreign policy and the 2008 financial crisis. Additionally, he discussed baseball; his memoir, “Decision Points”; his second hobby, painting; and the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, which opened this past May.
Mrs. Bush spoke about her past and continuing efforts to strengthen literacy programs, combat preventable disease, promote human rights and foster educational opportunities for women around the world.
President and Mrs. Bush also reflected on their work in Africa, where they have led efforts to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and cervical cancer through work such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the President’s Malaria Initiative and the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Initiative.
Founded in 1996, the President’s Distinguished Lecture series brings distinguished men and women to campus to discuss significant issues of the day. Speakers in the series have included Margaret Thatcher, Shimon Peres, Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright, Vicente Fox of Mexico, Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, and most recently, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.