Skip to main content

Politics and 'Scandal' Open Distinguished Lecture Series

Author Jon Meacham and ‘Professional Fixer’ Judy Smith to Open Kean University's 2018-2019 Distinguished Lecture Series.

Presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Jon Meacham and Judy A. Smith, whose career in high-level crisis management inspired the hit TV show Scandal, will launch Kean University’s Distinguished Lecture Series this semester.

Visit the Distinguished Lecture Series page for updates and to register.

Meacham, whose work uses history as a lens to view the modern-day political climate, will explore the topic American Politics and Current Events in the first lecture of the semester on Wednesday, October 24.

Smith will speak about crisis management and her work in communications, media and politics during an address on Wednesday, December 5.

“We are proud to welcome both Jon Meacham and Judy Smith to our Distinguished Lecture Series,” said Kean University President Dawood Farahi, Ph.D. “These speakers bring a wealth of expertise and knowledge in the crucial areas of American politics and current events. We can learn a great deal from these distinguished observers of American politics.”

The Distinguished Lecture Series launched during the last academic year with an appearance by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward, TV journalist and women’s activist Soledad O’Brien, and animatronics expert and former Mythbusters’ host Grant Imahara. 

Additional speakers for the 2018-2019 Distinguished Lecture Series will be announced in the coming months.

A contributor to TIME and a regular television political commentator, Meacham is known as a skilled raconteur and one of America’s most prominent public intellectuals, with a depth of knowledge about politics, religion and current affairs. He will examine the present moment in American politics and life by looking back at critical times in U.S. history, when hope overcame division and fear. His latest book, The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels, debuted at #1 on The New York Times bestseller list.

Smith was the inspiration for and co-executive producer of Scandal, a TV drama revolving around the life and work of a high-powered crisis management executive. She is the founder and president of Smith & Company, a leading strategic advisory firm with offices nationwide.

Smith has worked on some of the most historic and sensational events of our time, including the Iran-Contra investigation; the prosecution of former Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry; the 1991 Gulf War; the congressional inquiry of Enron; the President Clinton scandal involving Monica Lewinsky; and the Sony Corporation hacking crisis. She also serves as counselor to Fortune 500 corporations and authored the book, Good Self, Bad Self.

Meacham is scheduled to speak at 4:30 p.m. on October 24, and Smith with speak at 4:30 p.m. on December 5 in Kean’s STEM Building, 1075 Morris Avenue in Union. 

Admission is free and open to the public, but seating is limited and will be first come, first served. Reserve your seat at Reserved tickets will be available at Will Call beginning at 3:30 p.m., and doors will open at 4 p.m. Unclaimed tickets will be released to the general public at 4:15 p.m.

Following his speech, Meacham will sign copies of The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels and meet with guests at Ursino Steakhouse & Tavern, also in the STEM Building. Admission to that event is $60, which includes light hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine, and a copy of the book. For advance reservations, please visit