The JFK Assassination


DALLAS (SMU) – SMU is sponsoring a series of compelling programs through spring 2014 associated with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas's Dealey Plaza.

Feb. 18 – 19, 2014

The Presidents and Their Crises

Time: The program begins the evening of Feb. 18 with a focus on John Kennedy, while the all-day seminar on Feb. 19 will examine Kennedy and 12 other presidents.
Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza and SMU Crum Auditorium
Registration/RSVP: Details on registration and the events can be found at

The symposium is a two-day examination of the effect of three types of crises in the lives of sitting presidents – illness, personal matters made public, and a death in the family. The program will seek to answer what happens to a president and his administration when that president suffers a personal crisis. Does the crisis result in policy change, or an identifiable change in historical moments?

The symposium is presented by SMU’s Center for Presidential History, Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, George W. Bush Library and Museum and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.

Tuesday evening, Feb. 18, 2014

Richard Reeves

Time: 7 p.m.
Sixth Floor Museum At Dealey Plaza (411 Elm Street, Dallas)

Richard Reeves,Senior Lecturer at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California, will discuss the traumatic events at play in John Kennedy’s life during his tenure as president – Addison’s Disease, the death of his infant son, and extramarital indiscretions. An author and syndicated columnist who has made a number of award-winning documentary films, Reeve’s latest book is Portrait of Camelot: A Thousand Days in the Kennedy White House (Abrams, 2010).

Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014

All-Day Symposium

Time: 8:30 a.m. - 3:15 p.m.
Bob Hope Theatre at The Owen Arts Center (SMU Campus, 6101 Bishop Blvd.)

The daylong event will examine the impact of personal crises on Kennedy and 12 other U.S. presidents. Broken into three segments, the program will feature distinguished scholars from across the United States.

Topic: Personal Crises and Public Responsibility

  • A comparison of John Tyler and Gerald Ford: Mark Updegrove, presidential historian, author of Baptism by Fire: Eight Presidents Who Took Office During Times of Crisis (Thomas Dunne Books, 2009)
  • Bill Clinton: William Chafe, co-director of Duke University’s Program on History, Public Policy and Social Change.
  • Andrew Jackson: Dan Feller, director of The Papers of Andrew Jackson at the University of Tennessee.
  • Lyndon Johnson. Randall Woods, Distinguished Professor, John A. Cooper Professor of History, University of Arkansas.

Topic: Loss in the Family

  • Calvin Coolidge: Amity Shlaes, syndicated columnist, director of the Four Percent Growth Project at the George W. Bush Institute, author of Coolidge (Harper Collins, 2013).
  • Franklin Pierce: Michael Holt, emeritus professor history at University of Virginia, author of Franklin Pierce (Times Books, 2010).
  • John Kennedy: David Nasaw, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. professor of History at City University of New York City University of New York, award-winning author.
  • Abraham Lincoln: Michael Burlingame, Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois-Springfield.

Topic: Presidential Illness

  • Woodrow Wilson: Tom Knock, associate professor at SMU’s Clements Department of History, author of To End All Wars: Woodrow Wilson and the Quest for a New World Order (Princeton University Press, 1992).
  • Richard Nixon: Jeremi Suri, Mack Brown Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, author of Henry Kissinger and the American Century (Harvard, 2007).
  • Ronald Reagan: Kiron Skinner, associate professor of social and decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, co-author of multiple books on the 40th president, including Reagan: A Life in Letters (The Free Press, 2001).
  • Franklin Roosevelt: Frank Costigliola, professor of history at the University of Connecticut, author of Roosevelt’s Lost Alliances: How Personal Politics Helped Start the Cold War (Princeton University Press, 2013).

Call (214) 768-3210 or email for questions and more information.

Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014

Capstone Presentation by Karen Hughes

Time: 7 p.m.
Location: George W. Bush Institute Auditorium (2943 SMU Blvd., Dallas)

Karen Hughes is a trusted counselor to corporate, nonprofit and political leaders providing strategic communications, corporate positioning and messaging advice. Since joining Burson-Marsteller in 2008, she has brought to the business world her unique expertise honed over more than 30 years of public policy, communications and political experience, from helping lead winning presidential campaigns to serving at the highest levels of government.

Click here to register. Call (214) 768-3210 or email for questions and more information.

Click here for a list of all SMU events associated with the assassination of John F. Kennedy