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President's Leadership Forum - FAQs

October 9, 2014

What is the Whitworth President’s Leadership Forum?

The Whitworth President’s Leadership Forum brings speakers to Spokane who represent a broad range of voices, perspectives and ideas. The event takes place twice a year and draws key national figures to the Inland Northwest to provide wisdom and insight on a variety of relevant, contemporary issues.

It is vital that our students (and the greater Spokane community) are exposed to many perspectives and ways of thinking, and that they have a safe space and adequate time to commit to talking about difficult issues. This includes hearing a range of voices spanning the political spectrum. The PLF is Whitworth’s way of providing Spokane and our students with this opportunity.

Why is the Whitworth President’s Leadership Forum important?

The foundation of democracy is freedom of speech, and we believe that reasonable people can disagree without demonizing or silencing one another. Colleges and universities, by hosting forums to discuss provocative ideas and diverse opinions, are ideal environments to counter the polarization taking place in our society. Protests that aim to censor instead of engage or debate have no place in colleges or universities.

How does the PLF fit Whitworth’s mission of providing students with an education of mind and heart?

Whitworth faculty and staff believe that Christian worldviews and the ideas of Christian thinkers are sharpened by rigorous and open intellectual inquiry, and by engagement with the broadest spectrum of thought. This belief motivates Whitworth to lead the way by inviting speakers who can help our community engage in critical and careful thinking, civil discourse and effective action.

Why did Whitworth invite Dr. Rice to speak at the PLF this fall?

Whitworth elevates its identity as a university where freedom of expression and the opportunity to hear opposing ideas are honored. Whitworth has invited Dr. Rice to speak with the Whitworth and Spokane communities about matters of foreign policy and higher education, and her rich experience in those arenas. We are also very interested to hear about Dr. Rice’s life experiences, which include growing up in a Presbyterian family under challenging conditions in the South, and how she used academic opportunities, gained through higher education, as a platform to launch a career in politics and education.

Interest from the Spokane community in this event has been significant, and Whitworth anticipates double the attendance of this particular PLF event over previous events.

Will Dr. Rice receive an award or other recognition from Whitworth?

Dr. Rice is not receiving an award or honor from Whitworth, nor does Whitworth necessarily endorse her decisions as a politician, political science professor, businesswoman, author, or any role she has held throughout her career. We look forward to engaging her in tough conversations about her experiences.

Who made it possible for Dr. Rice to visit Spokane?

Many private and business sponsors across the region have graciously donated time, funds, and other resources to bring Dr. Rice to Spokane. The PLF is not a fundraising event. Rather, it is a forum meant to expose students and other community members to prominent national figures with a broad variety of relevant, timely perspectives.

Who are some other speakers Whitworth has invited to Spokane?

Previous PLF speakers include former Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan; Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin; President of Smith College Kathleen McCartney; and political commentator George F. Will. Other campus speakers include Judy Shephard, a leading figure in speaking out against LGBT hate crimes; Scott McKay, a criminal defense lawyer who defended terrorism suspects following Sept. 11, 2001, and who is a member of the John Adams Project; and Markie Hancock, a film producer who makes documentaries covering topics on race, education and LGBT rights. This spring, Whitworth will host Bryan Stevenson, the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative.