Howard University Taps Donna Brazile for Endowed Chair - Higher Education
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Howard University Taps Donna Brazile for Endowed Chair

by Reginald Stuart

Howard University has announced the appointment of influential and veteran political strategist Donna Brazile, former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, to a post as an Endowed Chair in Public Policy.

Brazile, who has a long history of advising politicians and running campaigns “will develop and host a five-part series designed to engage the Howard community on a variety of subjects, including politics, voting, criminal justice reform and civility,” according to university officials.

Brazile will become the 7th person to hold the King Chair, a one-year appointment funded by the 2008 $1 million dollar endowment gift from the two Howard University graduates, Gwendolyn S. and Colbert I. King. The position was last held by former FBI Director James Comey, the veteran federal agent who was fired by President Donald Trump.

Donna Brazile

“We are at a pregnant moment in our national dialogue around politics and public policy,” said Howard University president Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, who announced the appointment on Monday morning. “The nature of that discourse unfortunately isn’t allowing for a discussion of substance. She can now bring all that experience and wisdom to bring a bipartisan discussion to these critical issues.”

Brazile, who is the author of several books including Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House, Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in America and For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics, which she coauthored with Leah Daughtry, Minion Moore, Veronica Chambers and Yolanda Caraway, is no stranger to the classroom. Over the years, she has taught at Georgetown University and the University of Maryland and continues to be a popular lecturer on college campuses.

“It is truly a great honor and privilege to be part of the King Lecture Series at Howard University,” Brazile told Diverse. “For over 25 years, I have served as an adjunct professor on several college campuses across the United States, but Howard University has a unique history and an amazing future. I am looking forward to working with members of the faculty and engaging the students on important issues in public policy and strengthening our democracy.”

In a 2014 Diverse profile of Brazile, she said that she enjoyed teaching.

During the year-long chair position, Brazile will focus on the theme, “The Future Is Now” and explore several public policy areas.

Journalists, who have reported on Brazile’s extensive work for years, noted the importance of her selection.

“I think she brings a wealth of experience,” said USA Today Washington correspondent Deborah Barfield Berry. “She’s been at the table with national leaders, but, more importantly, she’s been in the trenches, in the community knocking on doors, talking to people.”

Indeed, Brazile has covered much ground since her college days as a volunteer in the presidential campaign of former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter. In the years since, she worked on the presidential campaigns of the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt. She was the campaign manager for Vice President Al Gore Jr., when he ran for U.S. President in 2000.

In the process, Brazile has accumulated a ‘golden rolodex’ of political contacts throughout the nation  and has become a  familiar face and voice on radio and television and is widely quoted in news stories across the country.

Those familiar with Chair appointments at universities, said the selection of Brazile was consistent with an institution of Howard’s who was looking for a high profile person with rich experience.

“We are delighted that such a renowned political strategist as Donna Brazile will hold the King Chair in Public Policy this academic year,” Gwen and Colby King said in a joint statement. “Donna Brazile will bring unparalleled breadth and depth of experience and knowledge to Howard students across several academic disciplines. Her presence on HU’s campus will spark a higher level of understanding and peak interest in the political process — having them eager to engage with her,” the Kings said.

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