Friday, September 28, 2012

Food for Thought: Lecture Enthralls Senior Audience

Univeristy Center and a sample of the beautiful
 tiles featured on the Mediterranean buildings.
The tile below honors Bishop James Hoffman,
a wonderful man I worked with in 1970s on a
City-County family violence prevention board.  
I went to hear Dr. Gerry Bazer, political scientist and Dean Emeritus of Arts and Sciences at Owens Community College in Toledo, give a lecture on "All You Wanted to Know about Presidential Second Terms, But Were Afraid to Ask."  Good timing!

The lecture, at the Franciscan Center of Lourdes University, once a small college run by Franciscan nuns on their multifaceted campus, provided the opening salvo for the expanding college's 2012 Continuing Education program.  I was glad to be back on the beautiful campus, located not far from my home in Sylvania, and to walk about in the rain under my mom's antique orange and brown umbrella.  I hadn't been on the campus since the early 1980s. I left Toledo for DC in 1985, and didn't return until May 2011. Lots of memories flooded back as I strolled into the lecture hall.  

I'll be teaching about the Peace Corps in a few weeks so I was happy to be on the campus, meet other teachers, and  get to know potential students.  It was a full house, packed with mostly seniors and retired workers. The lecture was  informative, presented clearly and with humor. Dr. Bazer, mindful of his audience, asked good questions, and answered them.   How many presidents won second terms? Did their victory margins increase or decrease? Why did certain presidents lose? How successful were the presidents' second terms?

Needless to say, the members of the audience had something on their minds.  At times you could sense the questions.  Quiet anticipation.  The current election!  Would president Obama be elected to a second term or not? Would the lecture offer any clues?

It did.  Sixteen of our forty-three presidents (37%) won second terms; economic issues determined the election outcomes; and the second terms were often too short to accomplish much.  "You know, after two years a new round of presidential elections starts all over again," Bazer noted.  You can't do much in two years.

Still, those for Obama saw hope in the information. Those for his opponent did too!  Nothing like a balanced, well-rounded humanities lecture to get the juices flowing. A lively question and answer period! I basked in the warm feeling of  students, of seniors, wanting to learn. Critical thinkers.  Intellectual curiosity. Engaged citizens. Civic discourse.

I thanked Dr. Bazer for his lecture and told him how much I appreciated scholars who participated in public programs.  He smiled and informed me that he is a lecturer for the Ohio Humanities Councils' Speakers Bureau.  These scholars, often under siege at modern universities, are willing to share their expertise with the general public, and public audiences still hunger for knowledge.  Dr. Bazer's lecture provided lots of food for thought.  
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