Feb. 13, 2002
William J. Bennett To Speak at Whittier College Dinner
William J. Bennett, considered one of America’s most important, influential and respected voices on cultural, political and education issues, will be the keynote speaker at Whittier College’s John Greenleaf Whittier Society Gala on Thursday, Feb. 21, at the Westin Hotel, South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, Calif. Bennett agreed to speak on short notice after Andrew Cuomo cancelled his appearance to attend to his New York gubernatorial campaign.
Established in 1923, the John Greenleaf Whittier Society (JGWS) is Whittier’s leadership donor society. Past speakers have included Henry Kissinger, President Gerald Ford, Dan Rather and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, among others.
Emerging as a prominent political figure in the 1980s, Bennett served in the Reagan administration as chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (1981–85) and Secretary of Education (1985–88), and was “drug czar” for President Bush (1989–90).
Since leaving government, Bennett has written and edited 14 books. Two of his tomes, The Book of Virtues and The Children’s Book of Virtues rank among the most successful of the past decade. The Book of Virtues was made into an animated series that airs on PBS in the U.S. and Great Britain and has been seen in more than 65 countries. His most recent book is The Broken Hearth: Reversing the Moral Collapse of the American Family. Doubleday will release his next book, Why We Fight: Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism, in April.
Bennett has appeared as a commentator on such television programs as “Larry King Live,” “This Week,” “Face the Nation,” and “Meet the Press.” He is regularly featured on the op-ed pages of The Washington Post, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Time magazine named him one of the most 25 influential people in America and Modern Maturity magazine has called him “the most influential man in America today.” He is co-director of Empower America, a non-profit group dedicated to “advancing the political and social debate around issues of education, taxes, foreign policy and social values.”
He is also founder and chairman of K12, an Internet-based elementary and secondary school that will offer a complete, world-class curriculum to anyone, anywhere. K12 will combine solid academic content, reliable teaching methods and state-of-the-art technology in an effort to provide every child with an education comparable to that offered in the nation’s best private and public schools. Bennett says K12 can be used a tool for home-schoolers, charter schools, remedial education and advanced learning.
Although he is a well-known Republican, Bennett has crossed party lines in order to pursue important common purposes. He has worked closely with Democratic leaders to fight the decline of popular culture and to end worldwide religious persecution. He is co-chairman of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America with Mario Cuomo, former governor of New York.
Bennett also serves on the Education Advisory Committee of Walden Media, a new company that produces television shows and movies that promote learning while focusing on historical events and classic books.
He is a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., and holds a B.A. from Williams College, where he studied philosophy. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Texas and a law degree from Harvard University. Bennett lives in Chevy Chase, Md., with his wife and two sons.
Located 18 miles east of Los Angeles, Whittier College is an independent, four-year college offering traditional liberal arts majors and strong pre-professional programs taught in the context of the liberal arts. Whittier Law School, which is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools, is located on a separate campus in Costa Mesa.
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