Laura Bush arriving Sept. 17 to speak on ‘quiet leadership’

Tayler Critchlow

Former first lady Laura Bush will arrive at Georgia Southern University on Sept. 17

and students will have the opportunity to hear her speak on quiet leadership.

The Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement (OSLCE) and the Office of

Student Affairs and Enrollment Management are sponsoring the event.

“If you think of her as a first lady, she was behind the scenes, you know literacy was

an issue for her because she is a librarian, but she had a tremendous impact world

wide from a very behind the scenes, quiet position — quiet leadership,” Todd Deal,

Ph.D. and director of the OSLCE, said.

The reason former President George Bush will not be attending is because not only

would it cost a lot more but also because he was such a recent president, the Secret

Service entourage would be huge, Deal said.

Bush will be joining a long list of leaders that have spoken at GSU.

“We are really excited about bringing [Mrs. Bush] to campus. I feel like we’ve

brought a lot of strong women to campus recently and she will be a great addition to

that list as well,” Jodi Kennedy, associate director of the OSLCE, said.

The OSLCE teaches service and leadership and how they go together and believed

that Laura Bush embodied that idea, Deal said.

The process of getting a speaker to come to campus is very extensive and can take

up to eight months or five years in the case of the Carters’ coming.

Kennedy remains in contact with about four agencies that send the office names of

possible speakers and as the names of people who have been leaders in the public

eye are collected, Deal said.

“We create a short list out of our office and we put it before a ton of students like the

Southern Leaders, Alternative Break Board, our service-learning facilitators and

BUILD Leaders,” Kennedy said.

“For us it’s not about personalities or people as much as someone who has exercised

leadership in the public eye,” Deal said.

Students can suggest possible speakers that they would be interested in seeing, that

is how Frank Warren of Post Secret was invited to speak.

“Everyone realizes that its hard being president and first lady but, some of the

stories that for instance the Carters told or that Rudy Giuliani told about 9/11 was

incredible because you hear that personal side of here were the struggles,” Deal said.

Students can submit questions for Bush through the GSU website.

“I hope that students are empowered to create some kind of positive change,

whether it be in their personal lives or whether it be in their communities,” Kennedy


Deal said, “I hope that the students will come and listen intently, take away the

lessons and that we show her kind of the Georgia Southern hospitality.”