The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Tony Blair to open this year’s Bryan Series on Oct. 4

Former Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Tony Blair will become the first of this year’s Bryan Series speakers on Tuesday, Oct. 4. His current work involves preparing Palestine for statehood. (TonyBlairOffice.Org)

“The Bryan Series has grown in size and in fame over the last several years,” said President and Professor of Political Science Kent Chabotar. “When it first got started, they had one guest a year.”

In July, U.S. Airways Magazine did a four-page spread on the Bryan Series. They called it “a window of the arts, humanities, and public affairs with lectures by former heads of state, Nobel Prize laureates, and other international figures.”

The Bryan Series is truly a privilege students should take advantage of.

“We don’t use a dime of student tuition dollars for any of this; it all comes out of Joe Bryan’s endowment and gifts, as well as the corporate sponsorships, ticket sales, and season tickets — talk about a nice arrangement,” said Chabotar.

This year, the Bryan Series is proud to present former Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Tony Blair as the first speaker.

“The (Bryan Series’) goal is to present speaker programs that will be educational and enjoyable,” said Associate Vice President for Communications and Marketing Ty Buckner. “Prime Minister Blair is a world leader who is actively involved in promoting Middle East peace, the eradication of poverty, and other issues that are important to people at Guilford. Hopefully, the opportunity to hear directly from someone who is on the world stage will be beneficial for our students.”

It is not a secret that Blair’s career has been controversial at times.

“Tony Blair has had a very long career in the British government,” said Chabotar. “He has some clear accomplishments (and) has some things which are controversial … like almost every speaker we have had.”

Blair’s international relations background includes encouraging then-President Bill Clinton to get involved in Kosovo, working with George Mitchell throughout the North Ireland peace process, and working with rescue missions to prevent genocide.

The Bryan Series provides an informational panel for students, which gives a hands-on learning experience.

“Although not part of the Bryan Series, we had a similar prep for the conservative politician Ralph Reed when he was here several years ago,” said Chabotar. “I think it’s great that students get to delve into all this stuff from their own majors and educate students about the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

Students who are aware of “the good, the bad, and the ugly” involving Blair are not blinded by his fame.

“While Tony Blair had a long and successful career as Prime Minister and created great reform through the implementation of national councils for North Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, he must also be remembered for his cronyism with the Bush administration and the undisclosed sums he accepted from international oil firms with vested interests in Iraq,” said senior political science major Brian Jones.

On the other hand, Blair started the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, a program to promote understanding and respect among religions. Blair believes that faith is beneficial to those facing challenges attaining globalization.

The Tony Blair Sports Foundation promotes participation in sports and encourages children who feel excluded to partake. The program also helps adults become trained coaches to help children.

Blair currently works for the Office of the Quartet Representative. The mission statement on the office’s website states, “The Office of the Quartet Representative works with the Palestinian Authority, the Government of Israel, international organizations, and NGOs to help build the institutions and economy for a future Palestinian state.”

Though Blair’s work can be considered controversial by some, having him as a speaker at the Bryan Series is an outstanding opportunity for Guilford students. Whether you rank him with the good, the bad, or the ugly, the chance to hear Blair speak and learn from his experience is one that should not be underappreciated.

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