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2011 News Archives


Director Larry Sabato to Match Gifts to the U.Va. Center for Politics


(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) – University of Virginia Center for Politics Director Larry Sabato has pledged to personally match gifts to the Center in an effort to raise $500,000 between now and December 31, 2011.

Sabato, the Robert Kent Gooch and University Professor of Politics, will match 100% of every contribution to the Center until the end of the year to reach the fundraising goal, for a maximum donation of $250,000.

The Center encourages donations of any amount, and reminds those whose companies provide charitable contribution matches that those gifts will have three times the power to improve the civic life of our nation.

Money raised will support the Center's many programs and initiatives, including the Youth Leadership Initiative, which provides civics education to students in all 50 states, and Global Perspectives on Democracy, which fosters citizen-to-citizen dialogue among the United States and other democratic societies around the world.


Former Sri Lankan President to Speak at University of Virginia Rotunda


(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) – As a part of its Global Perspective on Democracy program, the University of Virginia Center for Politics will host former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Badaranaike Kumaratunga on Monday, Nov. 14, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Rotunda Dome Room.

As Sri Lanka's president from 1994 to 2005, Kumaratunga led the island nation through a trying period of civil war. The 26-year-long conflict between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels only concluded in 2009, marking the beginning of a new era for the nation. As the country moves forward, questions remain about pluralism, civic engagement and reconciliation in the aftermath of the civil war.

Registration for the event is now full, but members of the media interested in covering the event are welcome to attend.

The Center for Politics' Global Perspectives on Democracy (GPD) program is aimed promoting the exchange of democratic ideas and improvement of civic engagement, citizen participation and civil discourse around the world.

The visit by President Kumaratunga follows a series of official exchanges between the Center for Politics and Sri Lanka. In 2009, the Center hosted a visiting delegation of 18 young professionals from Sri Lanka who participated in a three-week internship program organized in partnership with Relief International and funded by the U.S. Department of State. As a reciprocal part of that program, Center representatives then traveled to Sri Lanka to conduct workshops on civic engagement, federalism, and new media applications. In June 2010 a second delegation from Sri Lanka spent four weeks learning about new media journalism, freedom of the press, pluralism, and civic engagement.


Center for Politics to Host US Senator Mark Udall


(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) – The University of Virginia Center for Politics will host a guest lecture by US Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) this Friday, Nov. 11 at 5:30 PM in Jefferson Hall. Entitled "Civility and the Path to Progress," Udall's remarks will focus on the current state of politics in the nation's capital and his ideas for moving the country forward by overcoming hyper-partisan disagreements.

Members of the media interested in covering the event are welcome to attend.

Udall, the senior senator from Colorado, was responsible for calling on his colleagues to bridge the partisan divide by sitting together at the president's most recent State of the Union address. He currently chairs the Senate Energy Subcommittee on National Parks, and previously served 10 years in the U.S. House of Representatives prior to being elected to the Senate in 2008.


Center for Politics Panel to Examine Cold War's Berlin Crisis

Panel includes Dr. Sergei Khrushchev, son of ex-Soviet premier


(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) – Half a century after the building of the Berlin Wall established a tangible division between the western and eastern combatants in the Cold War, a panel will discuss what led to its construction and the tense, nuclear brinksmanship that loomed over the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union in the early 1960s.

University of Virginia Center for Politics Director Larry J. Sabato will moderate a discussion among noted Cold War experts at the University of Virginia Special Collections Library's Harrison Auditorium on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. The panel is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. For more information or to register, visit http://hoosonline.virginia.edu/berlincrisis

Joining Dr. Sabato for the discussion are panelists:

Dr. Sergei Khrushchev, Senior Fellow at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies and son of former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev

Dr. Hope M. Harrison, Professor of History at George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs

Dr. Jackson Janes, Executive Director of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University

The panel is presented as part of the Center for Politics' Anniversary Series, which commemorates landmark political events in American history through public lectures, programs, television documentaries and teaching resources offered to a nationwide audience.


Center for Politics to Host Lecture by Former U.S. Attorney General and PA Governor Dick Thornburgh


CHARLOTTESVILLE VA | October 13, 2011 - The University of Virginia Center for Politics will host former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh for a special Dome-Room lecture, "Politics and Public Policy: How Do We Stand?" Mr. Thornburgh, also a former two-term governor of Pennsylvania, will discuss his time in public life and comment on current events in American politics.

Thornburgh will speak Tuesday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. in the Rotunda Dome Room of the University of Virginia.

As Attorney General under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Thornburgh was a leading voice for the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act. He later served as Under-Secretary General of the United Nations from 1992-93. An influential attorney, Thornburgh was recognized by Washingtonian magazine as one of "ten legendary Washington lawyers who will forever leave their mark on the District's legal landscape."

The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Please register online at http://hoosonline.virginia.edu/thornburgh.


Sabato to host discussion of "JFK" with Director Oliver Stone at 2011 Virginia Film Festival

Center for Politics director, legendary filmmaker will review controversial film following Festival screening


CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA | October 6, 2011 – Professor Larry Sabato, Director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, will host a discussion with filmmaker Oliver Stone about his landmark film "JFK" as part of the 2011 Virginia Film Festival. Sabato's discussion with Stone will follow a special screening of the film scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. on Friday, November 4th at the University's Culbreth Theatre.

"JFK" tells the story of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who doubts the official story of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and investigates the crime for himself. The film sparked controversy upon its release in 1991, showing how the JFK assassination and the questions behind it still loom large in American life.

Sabato is completing a new book, "The Kennedy Half-Century," about the political life and legacy of President Kennedy. It will be released in 2013, the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, by Walker & Company, a division of Bloomsbury Publishing.

The 24th Annual Virginia Film Festival will be held in Charlottesville from November 3rd through November 6th. For tickets and additional information on the Virginia Film Festival, visit www.virginiafilmfestival.org.


Youth Leadership Initiative Announces the 2011 Mock Election

A Presidential race between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton never took place. But what if it had?


CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA | September 15, 2011 - The Youth Leadership Initiative is proud to announce its plans for the 2011 National Mock Election. This fall, students across the nation will vote in an online mock presidential election between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Using the lesson plans, Comparing Jefferson & Hamilton: Birth of American Political Parties (middle/high) or "Hamilton vs. Jefferson: the Race for the Mock Political President" (elementary) students will examine the birth of our political party system while preparing to vote in this historic mock election. Students in Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, and West Virginia will vote in mock gubernatorial elections for their respective states. The Mock Election connects students with the political process at a young age, which encourages them to become life-long citizens who participate in American democracy later in life.

In Kentucky, incumbent Democratic Governor Steve Beshear is running for a second term against Republican challenger David L. Williams and Independent Gatewood Galbraith. In Louisiana, incumbent Republican Governor Bobby Jindal is running for reelection against a teacher, Democrat Tara Hollis, and a slate of additional candidates. In Mississippi, incumbent Governor Haley Barbour cannot seek re-election under his state's term limits, so Republican Phil Bryant and Democrat Johnny DuPree are vying for the governorship.

In West Virginia, the office of the Governor became vacant upon the resignation of Governor Joe Manchin, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010 to fill the seat of the late Robert Byrd. State Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin is currently West Virginia's acting governor, but the state's Supreme Court of Appeals ruled on January 18, 2011 that a special election must be held for the office of Governor. Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin will run against Republican Bill Maloney, Bob Henry Baber of the Mountain Party, Harry Bertram of the American Third Position Party, and Independent Marla Ingels this fall, and a new Governor will be in place by November 15.

Just as in previous years, YLI educators will have the opportunity to customize their ballots to add local races, referenda and school-wide elections. Last year's Mock Election was incredibly successful, with more than 550,000 votes cast in state wide races for governor, and U.S. House and Senate. 2010 was the first election held on the Youth Leadership Initiative's new website, which makes voting quick and easy.

In the weeks leading up to the Mock Election, teachers across the nation will be able to use YLI lesson plans to prepare students for their participation. The Youth Leadership Initiative will provide everything teachers need to run a successful mock election. In past years, this has included downloadable classroom decorations, student instructions, teacher instructions and sample press releases.

Polling for the 2011 National Mock Election will be available online October 24th through November 3rd, with results posted on the YLI website on November 4th. West Virginia and Louisiana's Mock Election will have polling available September 19th through September 29th, with results posted online September 30th, due to their elections being prior to the standard November 8th election day. Educators should visit YLI's www.youthleadership.net to sign up and learn more about this engaging program!


U.Va. Center for Politics to Focus on Women in Politics at Richmond Conference


CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA | July 21, 2011 - This year, the 13th annual Virginia Political History Project, presented by the University of Virginia Center for Politics, will examine the role of women in Virginia politics. Pioneering women from across the political spectrum will share their stories about how they became engaged in politics and government and will examine the current and future opportunities and challenges for women interested in political office and other public/civic service.

The conference will be held Friday, July 29 from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the State Capitol Building in Richmond. The event is free and open to the general public with advance registration at www.centerforpolitics.org/historyproject.html. Members of the media may reserve space by contacting Kyle Kondik at 434-243-1499 or kondik@virginia.edu

"Despite making great strides in the academic and professional sectors, women are consistently underrepresented in elected government positions," said Kyle Kondik, Media Relations Coordinator for the U.Va. Center for Politics. "Only about 19% of the 140 members of the Virginia General Assembly are women, and Virginia is one of the largest states with no women currently serving in either a statewide or federal elective office."

Confirmed General Session speakers include:

  • Patti Solis Doyle, Democratic strategist and campaign manager
  • The Honorable Thelma Drake, former Republican Congresswoman
  • Margaret Edds, former columnist, the Virginian-Pilot
  • The Honorable Eva Teig Hardy, former Secretary of Health and Human Resources of Virginia
  • Kate Obenshain, former Chair, Republican Party of Virginia
  • Daphne Maxwell Reid, owner, New Millennium Studios
  • The Honorable Eva Scott, former state senator
  • The Honorable Terrie Suit, Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security
  • The Honorable Mary Sue Terry, former Democratic attorney general of Virginia
  • Judy Peachee Wason, Republican strategist and campaign manager

In the afternoon, the Farm Team and the Jennifer Byler Institute will lead concurrent workshops aimed at encouraging more women to enter the fields of government, law and politics.


Center for Politics to Host Second Installation of U.S.-Afghanistan Professional Partnership Program


CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – A delegation of government officials from Afghanistan will arrive at the U.Va. Center for Politics on Sunday, July 3 to begin a three-week session focused on foundational principles of democratic governance as well as citizen participation and civic engagement in a democratic society.

This U.S.-Afghanistan Professional Partnership Program is part of the Center's international outreach program, Global Perspectives on Democracy, which was launched in 2009. This is the second delegation from Afghanistan to participate in this program; the first was in Virginia from June 6 to June 25.

The 14 delegates are primarily female officials from Afghanistan's Ministry of Women's Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Supreme Court and Bureau for Reconstruction and Development.

Delegates will participate in lectures and presentations by prominent American legal scholars, jurists, and political figures, including Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, Virginia Supreme Court Justice William Mims and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. The group will also visit key sites related to the foundation of America's democracy at a time when Afghanistan is building its own democratic government.

Delegates will participate in lectures at Virginia landmarks including Monticello, Montpelier, Jamestown and Williamsburg and make visits to Richmond, Virginia Beach and the Shenandoah National Park.

Delegates will also receive hands-on experience through job shadowing at Charlottesville-area nonprofit organizations. Class sessions will feature presentations by minority groups and dialogues on interfaith understanding.

The full program schedule is available at: www.centerforpolitics.org/downloads/gpda2.pdf

The program is designed and run by the Center for Politics, as part of its Global Perspectives on Democracy initiative, in partnership with Relief International and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. This is the second of four groups from Afghanistan who will participate in the program over the next two summers.


Center for Politics Provides Snapshot of American Democracy for Afghan Women


CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA | June 20, 2011 — Wazhma Abdul Rahimzai serves as an advocate for women's and children's rights in Afghanistan, a mission that last week brought her thousands of miles from her home in Kabul to the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.

During a three-week program in Virginia this month, Rahimzai and 10 other female leaders in public service, education, law and human rights in Afghanistan are meeting with some of their counterparts from Virginia and Washington, D.C., gathering information and asking pointed questions about how government operates in the United States.

Rahimzai is the program manager for the Women & Children Legal Research Foundation, which identifies women's and children's problems and challenges by conducting research and seeks fair treatment for all citizens, especially women and children, through advocacy and awareness-raising programs.

"Based on findings from our research, we advocate at the national level that they accept the rights of women and children in the communities, as well as urging the lawmakers and policymakers to use our research findings as resources during the making of laws and policies," Rahimzai said.

"We also go to talk to the mullahs, to villagers and to the heads of all those who are authorities and influences in the community" to urge them that Koranic law affirms women's rights, as well as emphasizing "all our related national laws that also protect women's and children's rights."

"It's very clear, but they don't know that, and they have power over women," she said, adding that these local leaders resist full rights for women and children "because the religion is more special for them, but they're wrong" in their understanding.

Justice William Mims of the Virginia Supreme Court touched on the same topic, lecturing on "the principle of equality under the law" in the United States when he addressed the group Thursday morning.

Read full article at U.Va. Today.


Center for Politics to Host U.S.-Afghanistan Professional Partnership Program


CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The first of two visiting delegations from Afghanistan will arrive at the UVA Center for Politics on Monday, June 6 to begin a three-week session focused on foundational principles of American democracy and civic engagement in a democratic society. This U.S.-Afghanistan Professional Partnership Program is part of the Center's international outreach program, Global Perspectives on Democracy, which was launched in 2009. The 11 delegates of this year's first summer session are female public service and legal professionals from locations throughout Afghanistan. The second delegation will arrive during the Fourth of July weekend.

Delegates of the first session will participate in lectures and presentations by prominent American legal scholars, jurists, and political figures, including: Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, former U.S. Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, Virginia Supreme Court Justice William Mims and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Each of the groups will also visit key sites related to the foundation of America's democracy at a time when Afghanistan is building its own democratic government. Participants will visit Virginia landmarks including Monticello, Montpelier, Jamestown and Williamsburg.

Delegates will also receive hands-on experience through job shadowing at Charlottesville-area nonprofit organizations. Class sessions will also feature presentations by minority groups, and dialogues on interfaith understanding.

A program schedule is available at: www.centerforpolitics.org/downloads/gpda1.pdf

The program is designed and run by the Center for Politics, as part of its Global Perspectives on Democracy initiative, in partnership with Relief International and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. This is the first of four groups from Afghanistan who will participate in the program over the next two summers.


West Virginia Students Vote in Mock Election

Center for Politics' Youth Leadership Initiative holds mock election for gubernatorial primary


CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Polls close tomorrow in a statewide mock election held for West Virginia students and run by the Center for Politics' Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI) in partnership with the West Virginia Secretary of State's Office. The secure online polls opened on Monday, May 2 and voting concludes on Thursday, May 12 at 5 p.m. Thousands of students in roughly 250 classrooms across the state will have the opportunity to cast their virtual ballots for the West Virginia gubernatorial primary election.

The Youth Leadership Initiative Mock Election is the largest secure, student-only mock election in the nation. In the 2008 presidential election, more than 1 million students in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and American schools abroad cast virtual ballots through YLI.

Throughout the current two-week voting period, students will learn about the election process firsthand by casting online ballots in YLI's first-ever mock balloting conducted for a primary election. The Youth Leadership Initiative Mock Election is strictly an academic and learning exercise, however, and is not designed or intended to be predictive of the results of the general election.

"This Youth Leadership Initiative Mock Election will allow students of all ages to learn about and participate in this year's election for governor. The mock election gives many students their first taste of voting and starts a civic habit that can last a lifetime," said Meg Heubeck, YLI's Director of Instruction.

Teachers can sign up to participate in the free YLI civic-education program at a brand-new website, www.youthleadership.net.


Center for Politics Examines the Nation's Debt

Alan Simpson, Co-Chair of Federal "Debt Commission," to discuss findings


CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – As a near-government shutdown and a looming battle over raising the nation's debt limit has focused Washington on the nation's long-term financial shortfalls, the University of Virginia Center for Politics will hold a timely forum on "The Politics of the Nation's Debt" Wednesday, April 27 at 6:30 p.m.

Join Professor Larry J. Sabato and an expert panel in the Harrison Auditorium at U.Va.'s Special Collections Library as they shed light on both parties' political maneuverings on the debt issue and provide candid assessments of the competing plans designed to tackle it.

The scheduled panelists are:

  • Former Senator Alan Simpson, co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, popularly known as the "Debt Commission."
  • Dr. Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research
  • David Walker, President of the Comeback America Initiative and former head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office

The forum is free and open to the public, though seating will be limited. Advance registration is required at http://hoosonline.virginia.edu/debt.


Sabato Donates Rare Lincoln Funeral Artifact to Center for Politics


CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – On the 146th anniversary of the funeral of President Abraham Lincoln, University Professor Larry J. Sabato has acquired and donated to the UVA Center for Politics a certified, original entrance pass required for invited guests to attend the Wednesday, April 19, 1865 funeral in the East Room of the White House. According to official accounts and newspaper reports at the time, only about 600 such passes were issued and were required for each of the distinguished guests who attended the ceremony.

The pass was discovered in 2010, preserved between the pages of an old scrapbook in the bedroom closet of a home near Silver Spring, Md., owned by descendants of a prominent Washington socialite family with connections to President Lincoln. Of the original 600 printed, this pass has been preserved in exceptional condition and is one of only a half-dozen known to have survived to present day. Professor Sabato acquired the Lincoln funeral artifact when it was auctioned by Mears earlier this year.

Following the Lincoln assassination, the general public was allowed to view President Lincoln's remains beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 18, 1865 while he lay in state in the East Room of the White House. The invitation-only funeral took place the following day.

The small, black-bordered pass reads: "Admit the Bearer to the Executive Mansion Wednesday, April 19, 1865" with the word "South" across the top, likely to indicate either a White House entrance location and/or to direct the bearer to a specific section of the East Room.

At the time, journalist Noah Brooks described the setting of the Lincoln funeral and the placement of guests in a published article, and again in 1895 in his acclaimed biography of President Lincoln, Washington in Lincoln's Time:

"When the funeral exercises took place, the floor of the East Room had been transformed into something like an amphitheater by the erection of an inclined platform, broken into steps and filling all but the entrance side of the apartment and the area about the catafalque. This platform was covered in black cloth, and upon it stood the various persons designated as participants in the ceremonies, no seats being provided," wrote Brooks. "In the northwest corner were the pall-bearers...at the extreme southern end of the room were the governors of the States; and on the east side of the coffin…stood Andrew Johnson, President of the United States…Behind [President Johnson] were Chief Justice Chase and his associates on the Supreme Bench, and near them were the members of the cabinet and their wives…On the right of the cabinet officers, at the northern end of the room, were the diplomatic corps…The members of the Senate and House of Representatives were disposed about the room and adjoining apartments, and at the foot of the catafalque was a little semicircle of chairs for the family and friends. Robert T. Lincoln, son of the President, was the only one of the family present..."

The funeral pass will be displayed at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.


United States Senator Roy Blunt to Speak to Professor Sabato's 101 Class


CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) will speak to students in Larry Sabato's Introduction to American Politics today (Monday, April 11) at 3 p.m. at the Wilson Hall Auditorium on the University of Virginia grounds.

Blunt, a longtime public servant and prominent GOP leader, will provide a first-hand perspective on American politics to the more than 400 students taking Sabato's class. The event is hosted and sponsored by the University of Virginia Center for Politics. The senator will give brief remarks to the class before answering questions from students.

Blunt won election in November to the Senate seat previously held by Christopher S. "Kit" Bond, a Republican who retired. Prior to Blunt's election to the Senate, he served for seven terms in the House of Representatives and was elected House Majority Whip and Republican Whip three times by his colleagues in the House.