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ETSU to host inaugural ‘Festival of Ideas’

JOHNSON CITY – (January 11, 2019) Former White House Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin will be among the guests for the inaugural “Festival of Ideas” at East Tennessee State University Jan. 28-31.

“This festival is a new initiative that highlights the role of the institution as a thought leader in the region and beyond,” said Dr. Jeff Howard, ETSU associate vice president for student affairs and festival co-chair.  “This four-day event will provide an opportunity for the exchange of ideas, information and experiences between noted speakers and members of the ETSU community as well as the region.”

The theme of the inaugural 2019 event is “Presidents and Politics.”

“An Evening with Jennifer Palmieri” will be held on Monday, Jan. 28 at the Millennium Center Ballroom (second floor). Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. followed by the lecture and question and answer session at 6:30 p.m. Palmieri was the White House communications director for President Obama and also was head of communications for the Hillary Clinton Campaign. Palmieri

Stephanie Steinhorst Williams, chief of interpretation and education at the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site in Greeneville, will present “Changing Perspectives of U.S. Presidents” on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at the Reece Museum at 1 p.m.

On Wednesday, Jan. 30, a panel discussion on “The U.S. Presidency and the Media” will be held at 1 p.m. in the Reece Museum.  Members of the panel will be ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland, Dr. David Briley and Dr. Colin Glennon (Department of Political Science), Dr. Daryl Carter (Department of History) and Dr. Andrew Dunn (Department of Media and Communication). WJHL-TV 11 news anchor Josh Smith will moderate the panel.

The festival will conclude on Thursday, Jan. 31 with “An Evening with Doris Kearns Goodwin” at 6:30 p.m. at the Millennium Center. Goodwin is a presidential historian and author of the New York Times bestseller Leadership in Turbulent Times.  Doors will open that evening at 5:30 p.m.

All festival events are free and open to the public, and no reservations are required. For more information, contact the ETSU Office of Student Affairs at 423-439-4210 or . For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at 423-439-8346. Additional information is also available at


Contact:  Joe Smith, 423-439-5707 or


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