Caroline Kennedy’s Bryan Series cancellation replaced by Bill Bradley, Gwen Ifill, Jeb Bush

Caroline Kennedy will not speak at the next Bryan Series program scheduled for March 28 as originally planned. This marks the first time a speaker has canceled their Bryan Series appearance in over 50 events.

“We were really disappointed to learn in December that she had an obligation with her publisher for a book tour that begins in March,” said Ty Buckner, associate vice president of communications and marketing.

However, the show must go on.

The new program will present a bipartisan discussion about how to debate major issues civilly, by former Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Bradley and former Republican Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Bush’s scheduled arrival has stirred up some controversy on campus. While some students look forward to hearing from him, others do not.

“I find it vaguely insulting that we were going to let Kennedy perform on her own and not Bush,” said senior political science major Eamon Deeley-Wood. “I kind of wish we would give an open forum to a stand-alone Republican.”

Even through differing opinions about the new speakers, community members have expressed interest in this new take on the traditional Bryan Series speech.

“A debate-style Bryan Series would be interesting,” said sophomore Starshima Haynes. “I’d like to see that.”

“A debate, if properly done, is very effective,” said Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science Robert Duncan. “All too often, debates turn into talking points and shouting matches, which is just counterproductive. With a moderated debate … you could really look at the facts and the proof and the evidence.”

Gwen Ifill, managing editor of Washington Week on PBS and debate moderator of two vice-presidential debates, will moderate the program.

“What was a single individual making a presentation, we moved to a three-person program, which is unusual for us,” said Buckner. “We don’t often present multiple speakers. I don’t expect that the format of this program will be specifically like a debate. I expect it to be more of a conversation.”

Hopefully, the audience will also be able to engage in that conversation and have the opportunity to question the speakers about the nature of politics today.

“Why (is there) so much emphasis on bipartisanship instead of policies that are best for most people?” said Associate Professor of Political Science Maria Rosales. “I think that sometimes bipartisanship gets spoken of as if it’s a good in and of itself, as opposed to a tool to get things done.”

Regardless of your political views, this promises to be an interesting and unique Bryan Series experience.

“Not to forget Gwen Ifill’s involvement, but in terms of principal speakers, it’s almost a two-for-the-price-of-one arrangement,” Buckner said.

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