In commemoration of the sesquicentennial anniversary of President Lincoln’s death and then, two years later, of the founding of the University of Illinois, the U. of I. College of Law will host “The New Lincoln Lectures: What Abraham Lincoln Means to the 21st Century,” a series of several lectures to be held in 2016 and 2017. The lectures will feature luminaries in various fields related to law, government and history who will reflect on Lincoln’s legacy and its continuing relevance – both in their individual lives and the life of the nation – 150 years after his death.
Investigative reporter, presidential authority and nonfiction author Bob Woodward will deliver the inaugural lecture at 7 p.m. Jan. 26 at Foellinger Auditorium. Woodward has worked for The Washington Post since 1971, first as a reporter and now an associate editor. In 1972, Woodward and Carl Bernstein did much of the original reporting on the Watergate scandal, work that fueled government investigations and helped bring about the eventual resignation of President Richard Nixon. He has shared in two Pulitzer Prizes: in 1973, for the coverage of the Watergate scandal with Bernstein, and, in 2002, as the lead reporter for coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He has written or co-written 18 books, all of which have been national nonfiction best-sellers. Twelve of those have been No. 1 national best-sellers. His most recent book, “The Last of the President’s Men,” was published in October 2015. In 2004, Bob Schieffer of CBS News said, "Woodward has established himself as the best reporter of our time. He may be the best reporter of all time."
The second lecture, scheduled for 7 p.m. March 1 at Foellinger Auditorium, will feature award-winning newspaper columnist, author, political commentator and essayist George Will. Will’s newspaper column has been syndicated by The Washington Post since 1974, and today it appears twice weekly in more than 475 newspapers. For 35 years, he was a regular contributing editor of Newsweek magazine. In 1977, he won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in his newspaper columns. Will has published three books on political theory, three books on baseball and a collection of his columns from Newsweek and The Washington Post. For 32 years, he was a panelist on ABC television’s “This Week” and in 2013, he became a contributor to Fox News’ daytime and primetime programming. Will was born in Champaign and graduated from University Laboratory High School in Urbana.
Yale Law School professor Stephen Carter will deliver the third lecture on a date yet to be determined. Carter is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale Law School, where he has taught since 1982. Among his courses are law and religion, the ethics of war, contracts, evidence and professional responsibility. He has written books on law and politics, writes a column for Bloomberg View, and is a regular contributor to Newsweek, The Daily Beast and The Washington Post. Carter also writes fiction. His novel “The Emperor of Ocean Park” spent 11 weeks on The New York Times’ best-seller list. His novel “The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln” was published in 2012. His novella “The Hereditary Thurifer” recently appeared in the crime anthology “The Dark End of the Street.” Carter was formerly a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, as well as for Judge Spottswood W. Robinson III, of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He is a graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School and has received eight honorary degrees.
“I am thrilled and proud that the College of Law is assembling and presenting an ideologically diverse roster of the nation’s leading lights to help us remember and reflect on the ongoing importance of Abraham Lincoln, who many of us believe is the greatest lawyer in American history,” said Vikram Amar, the dean of the U. of I. College of Law. “It is particularly appropriate that these lectures take place under the auspices of the University of Illinois, a land-grant university created under a federal act Lincoln himself signed and located in his own home state.”
Several other lectures in the series will be announced as additional invitations are extended and accepted.
In lieu of an honorarium for each lecturer, a $5,000 scholarship for a selected College of Law student will be awarded. At the conclusion of the series, the college hopes to publish a compilation of the lectures in a book, targeted for a lay audience, which will be available for purchase at a relatively low cost during the university’s sesquicentennial celebration, with the proceeds used for College of Law scholarships.
The lectures are free and open to the public.