Dole Institute’s spring semester lineup includes focus on first ladies, women leaders

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The Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas has announced a spring semester event lineup that features a focus on the influence first ladies have had on presidential administrations, women’s issues and U.S. culture.

“Presidential Lecture Series: First Ladies as Presidential Partners” launches Wednesday.

The series will be moderated by Diana B. Carlin, professor emerita of communication at Saint Louis University and a retired professor of communication studies at KU, according to the Dole’s announcement. Carlin is also a founding member of the First Ladies Association for Research and Education (FLARE), the presenting partner of this series, according to the release.

“Our 20th programming year continues this spring emphasizing overlooked elements essential to a civil society: women’s leadership and the building blocks of democracy,” Dole Institute Director Audrey Coleman said in the release.

Audrey Coleman

“We’re excited to host guests representing leadership at the highest levels, both nationally and internationally.” 

All spring programs will take place in person at the Dole, 2350 Petefish Drive, and be livestreamed via the Dole Institute’s website,

Here’s the lineup of programs in the first ladies series: 

• 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1: “Evolution of the Modern First Lady — How We Got from Lady Washington to Dr. Biden” with Michael LaRosa, press secretary to Dr. Jill Biden and Anita McBride, chief of staff to Laura Bush 
• 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9: “First Ladies and Power — Influential First Ladies You Might Not Know Much About” with Rebecca Roberts, author; Katherine Sibley, first ladies scholar; and Teri Finneman, KU associate professor and author
• 7 p.m. Thursday, March 9: “First Ladies, Women’s Rights and Suffrage” with Nancy Kegan Smith, first ladies scholar and Stacy Cordery, historian and biographer
• 7 p.m. Thursday, March 23: “First Ladies, the ERA and Beyond” with Myra Gutin, president of FLARE and Bob Bostock, consultant to the Nixon Presidential Library Foundation

Juana Summers

For this spring’s Journalism and Politics series, the Dole is partnering with Kansas Public Radio and will feature Juana Summers.

Summers is a co-host of NPR’s All Things Considered, alongside Ailsa Chang, Ari Shapiro, and Mary Louise Kelly.

At 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, the Dole will host “An Evening with Juana Summers” in celebration of the Dole Institute’s 20th anniversary and KPR’s 70th anniversary.

Summers joined All Things Considered in June 2022 and previously spent more than a decade covering national politics, “most recently as NPR’s political correspondent covering race, justice, and politics,” according to the release.

“This program will feature a discussion on her remarkable career, her experiences covering race and politics in today’s climate and the future of journalism,” according to the release.

Qëndrim Gashi, associate professor at the University of Prishtina and Kosovo’s Ambassador to France from 2016 until 2021, is the Dole’s fellow this year.


Gashi will be in residence for three weeks to lead a Discussion Group series examining the topic of building democracy in Europe’s youngest country, the Republic of Kosovo, according to the release.

The program on Feb. 22 will feature Atifete Jahjaga, the first woman President of the Republic of Kosovo, the first female head of state in modern Balkans, and the youngest female world leader to be elected to the highest office, according to the release.

Atifete Jahjaga

Later in the spring, the Dole will welcome back Gerald F. Seib, retired Washington editor of the Wall Street Journal, to discuss democracy at home, according to the release.

Dates and guests are as follows: 

• 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15: “Building Democracy in the 21st Century: Kosovo’s Path to Independence and Democracy” with Dr. Pëllumb Kelmendi, political scientist and board member for the Society for Albanian Studies
• 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22: “Building Democracy in the 21st Century: Inclusiveness in Forming a Democracy” with Atifete Jahjaga, former President of the Republic of Kosovo (2011-2016)
• 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 1: “Building Democracy in the 21st Century: The road ahead to maintaining a democracy” with Dr. Enver Hasani, former President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Kosovo (2011-2016)

The Dole Institute is also continuing its partnership with the General Staff College Department at Ft. Leavenworth to host the Ft. Leavenworth Series, which “provides free historical lectures to the public facilitated by the world-class military history professors,” according to the release.

“The 2023 theme is ‘military invasions.’ Invasions play an important role in military history, often precipitating significant conflicts with important ramifications,” according to the release. “The series will discuss invasions from the medieval period through the present, detailing their aspects and their legacies, especially in the current environment of world politics.”

Lectures are set for the first Thursday of each month, starting in February. Here’s the lineup:

• 3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2: “Brittany to the Elbe: 9th Army’s Invasion of Europe in World War II” with Dr. Bill Nance
• 3 p.m. Thursday, March 2: “The Union Invasion of Mississippi in 1863” with Dr. Angela Riotto
• 3 p.m. Thursday, April 6: “Incheon 1950: The US Amphibious Invasion in the Korean War” with Dr. Lou DiMarco
• 3 p.m. Thursday, May 4: “The Invasions that Weren’t: French Efforts to Invade England 1740- 1805” with Dr. Jonathan Abel 

More information about each event is available on the Dole’s website, and additional events will be announced later in the spring, according to the release.

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Note: This post has been updated to correct a name.

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