After companionable chatter and Lori Walters’ Zoom etiquette reminders, Tom Strode started the meeting with The Star Spangled Banner. Dave Keosaian read the hymn inspired by James Russell Lowell’s 1845 poem, Once to Every Man and Nation. The poem reflected the national debate over slavery and the impending war with Mexico after the annexation of the slave-owning Texas by the United States. On a more cheerful note, we enjoyed beautiful pictures of Fall, accompanied by Nat King Cole’s rendition of “Autumn Leaves”.
President Joanne took over the meeting, thanking the people who make the meetings run, and announcing birthdays. Ken Fischer took the ARC moment to play Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski’s video on acknowledging that Black Lives Matter, and our responsibility to do something about it.
Our favorite Italian, Francesca, interrupted Kathy Waugh’s update on our online auction. Francesca was quite disappointed to learn that bidding on the Steve Schram item would not result in the delivery of the whole Steve Schram. Kathy showed us the entire auction website, which will be complete on October 19.
President Joanne announced that our speaker October 28 will be Jennifer Jones. Jennifer is the first woman to be nominated to become the President of Rotary International. She is a long time friend of our Club and we were lucky to get her on our calendar before her schedule gets too full for fun.
Notes from the Program
Michael Rein introduced our speaker, Catherine Carver. Catherine served as the Operations Co-Lead for the 2020 Presidential Debate Initiative at the University of Michigan beginning in January 2019, bringing with her two decades of experience from academia and the private sector. She holds an A.B. from Duke University and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, and her awards include a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome and a Fulbright Scholarship.
Catherine opened her talk with a recounting of the journey to securing, arranging and then withdrawing from hosting the second Presidential Debate on October 15. The application to host began in April. The event aligned with the University’s mission of public engagement, its recognition of the fractious times, and its determination to encourage students to vote and participate in public life. The University’s selection to host was announced on October 11, 2019. Much planning and coordination across all sectors of the University had taken place and now the plans were put into action. When the campus was closed March, emphasis was shifted to preparing for a virtual Fall. The specter of the public coming on campus, plus security issues, raised public health and safety concerns, and the University withdrew in May.
The debate application prompted the creating of a themed semester, Democracy and Debate, which launched on July 4. The website immediately drew thousands of hits and continues to receive visitors from across the globe. Every school and department in the University is involved and the co-operation and rapid execution of ideas and plans are ongoing. The University has found ways to engage students in conversations in small groups as well as in person The whole experience has demonstrated the power of co-operation, an experience that will continue to contribute to the University in the years ahead.
President Joanne reclaimed the podium for questions, then announced that next week’s program will be a panel discussion on polio lead by Incoming President Susan Froelich. She closed the program with two quotes:
John Lewis, Representative from Georgia, “Some of us gave a little blood for the right to participate in the democratic process.”
Representative Jeff Miller, Florida, “The democratic process is only as great as the people who participate in it.”