April 1, 2008

Archivist of the United States to speak at Commencement

DALLAS (SMU) – Dr. Allen Weinstein, the noted historian who oversees the nation's presidential libraries, will speak at SMU's 93rd Commencement ceremony Saturday, May 17, at 9:30 a.m. in Moody Coliseum on campus. SMU expects to award nearly 2,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees in the University-wide ceremony.

Dr. Allen Weinstein

As Archivist of the United States, Weinstein heads the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), an independent federal agency that preserves and makes available the permanent records of the federal government. NARA's 38 facilities include the National Archives headquarters in Washington, DC and 13 presidential libraries. The newest addition is the George W. Bush Presidential Library Center to be located on the campus of SMU.

"As SMU prepares to serve as a special resource for presidential research, we will be fortunate to hear from the national expert on what presidential libraries can mean to our understanding of U.S. history," said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "Our graduates will be the beneficiaries of these historical lessons, and when they become leaders in their own right, they will be further empowered to make informed decisions guiding their future."

In 2005 the U.S. Senate confirmed Weinstein's appointment as the 9th Archivist of the United States. In this capacity, he oversees resources that include nine billion pages of materials. Among them are millions of photographs, maps, and documents; thousands of motion pictures and audio recordings; and millions of electronic records. Every subject related to American history is covered in the records of the National Archives, from documents founding our nation to landmark Supreme Court cases, international treaties, and legislative records.

Weinstein also has been an active contributor helping to shape history. A leader on global democracy issues, he founded in 1984 The Center for Democracy, a non-profit foundation based in Washington, DC, and served as its president until 2002. His international awards include the United Nations Peace Medal (1986) for "efforts to promote peace, dialogue and free elections in several critical parts of the world"; The Council of Europe's Silver Medal (in 1990 and 1996), presented by its Parliamentary Assembly, for "outstanding assistance and guidance over many years"; and awards from the presidents of Nicaragua and Romania for assistance in their countries' democratization processes. In 2003 he was named Senior Advisor on Democratic Institutions at the International Foundation for Election Systems. Earlier in his career he directed the research study leading to creation in 1983 of the National Endowment for Democracy, in which he served as acting president. He has led election observation delegations in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, the Philippines, and Russia.

Within the higher education community, Weinstein was University Professor and Professor of History at Boston University from 1985-89, University Professor at Georgetown University from 1981-1984 and, from 1981 to 1983, served as executive editor of The Washington Quarterly at Georgetown's Center for Strategic and International Studies. From 1966-81, he taught history at Smith College and chaired its American Studies Program. He has also held visiting professorships at Brown University, Florida International University, and the George Washington University. Academic awards and fellowships have included two Senior Fulbright Lectureships, an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, the Commonwealth Fund Lectureship at the University of London, and a Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Fellowship.

Among numerous professional and civic activities, Dr. Weinstein has served on the Advisory Council of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas-Austin and as chair of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library Advisory Council.

Weinstein's books include The Story of America; The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America—The Stalin Era; Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case, which received several citations, including an American Book Award nomination; Freedom and Crisis: An American History; Prelude to Populism; and several edited collections. His articles and essays have appeared in numerous publications.

Weinstein also has made historical issues accessible to the public by serving as consultant for two History Channel programs on Soviet espionage; as co-host, writer and editor of the PBS series Face-to-Face: Conversations on the U.S.-Soviet Summitry; as moderator and producer of The Salvadoran Debate; and as host and creator of Inside Washington. He has been a frequent commentator on CNN, C-SPAN, and other networks.

After the Commencement in Moody Coliseum, the University's schools and departments will hold individual diploma ceremonies throughout the day.

"As a graduating student, I am eager to hear Dr. Allen Weinstein's commencement speech," said Katherine Tullos, student body president. "When the Class of 2008 entered SMU in 2004, it was only a possibility that the presidential library would make its home at our alma mater. However, as we graduate, it will be rewarding to hear from a scholar of presidential libraries and to hear of the potential opportunities for SMU students through the Bush Library."

Patti LaSalle
Tele. 214-768-7660
Kent Best
Tele. 214-768-7673

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