Senator Ben Sasse to present Manatt-Phelps Lecture in Political Science

Senator Ben Sasse
Senator Ben Sasse

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska will discuss political civility when he presents the fall 2018 Manatt-Phelps Lecture in Political Science on Oct. 25.

Sasse – who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014 after spending five years as president of Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska – will present “If Not Us, Who: Human Dignity in the 21st Century” at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 25, in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union. The presentation is free and open to the public.

A fifth-generation Nebraskan, Sasse grew up walking beans and detasseling corn, experiences that taught him the value of hard work. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in government at Harvard University, a Master of Arts in liberal studies at St. John's College and a Ph.D. in American history at Yale University. Sasse came to the U.S. Senate having spent the previous five years as a college president. When he was recruited to take over the failing Midland University, Sasse was just 37 years old, making him one of the youngest college presidents in the nation. The 130-year-old Lutheran college was on the verge of bankruptcy when he arrived, but became one of the fastest-growing higher education institutions in the country by the time of his departure.

"We are very pleased that Sen. Sasse will deliver the Manatt-Phelps lecture this year,” said Tom Phelps, who established the lecture series in 2002 with the late Ambassador Charles T. Manatt and their spouses Kathleen Manatt and Elizabeth Phelps.

Most of Sasse's career has been spent guiding companies and institutions through times of crisis with straight talk about the core issues. He has worked with the Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey and Company, as well as private equity firms and not-for-profit organizations, to tackle failing strategies across a broad array of sectors and nations. In the Senate, Sasse serves on the Judiciary; Armed Services; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; and Joint Economic committees. Sasse has advocated for ethics reform and been a critic of uncivil political discourse. He is author of the books “Them: Why We Hate Each Other and How to Heal” (2018) and "The Vanishing American Adult" (2017).

Previous Manatt-Phelps lectures have featured ambassadors from crucial American allies and friends – France, Germany, India, Spain and Sweden – as well as distinguished leaders from America’s largest trading partners, such as Mexico’s secretary of foreign affairs and Canada’s former minister of foreign affairs. Other lectures have been presented by then-U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Delaware); then-U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska); former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Indiana); Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne; counterterrorism expert Malcolm Nance; and MSNBC anchor and business correspondent Ali Velshi.

In addition to the Manatt and Phelps families, the fall 2018 Manatt-Phelps Lecture in Political Science is co-sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Department of Political Science; and the Committee on Lectures, which is funded by the Student Government.