Condoleezza Rice Speaks at Buena Vista University

Condoleezza Rice Speaks at Buena Vista University

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated, “Always assume that people desire the same dignity and same rights that you do,” during her student panel question-and-answer session at Buena Vista University Saturday afternoon.

“My parents were extraordinary in their view of education. They taught me the value of education,” said Dr. Rice. “Education was not just important but a necessity. They taught me the value of faith. They taught me that family really matters and to love this great country. My parents were my inspiration for everything.”

Dr. Rice, who served as the 66th Secretary of State of the United States from January 2005 to 2009, was on the Buena Vista University campus as the laureate for the 21st William W. Siebens American Heritage Lecture Series. During the afternoon, Dr. Rice participated in a question-and-answer program with a panel of Buena Vista University students that was attended by nearly 800 students, faculty and staff.

The student panel included Michael Boyle, a senior Marketing and Corporate Mathematics major from Perry, Iowa; Kirsten Bielen, a senior Education major from Redwood Falls, Minn.; Jonathan Ehrlich, a senior Biology major from Creston, Iowa; Tesia Posekany, a senior Biology major from Woodburn, Iowa; Hannah Puderbaugh, a junior English major from Peru, Iowa; Irma “Mariana” Ramirez Villa, a senior History and English major from Schaller, Iowa; alternate Meghan Harmening, a sophomore Finance and Accounting major from Marshall, Minn; and alternate Andrew Schanbacher, a senior Biology major from Newhall, Iowa.

The student panelists worked with Buena Vista University faculty mentors to develop questions for Dr. Rice that she would not see or be able to prepare for before the session. Faculty mentors included Dr. Swasti Bhattacharyya, associate professor of philosophy and religion; Dr. Thomas Bonagura, assistant professor of biology; Dr. Jeremy Horpedahl, assistant professor of economics; and session moderator, Professor Jamii Claiborne, associate professor of Digital Media.

“This event is an ongoing and amazing opportunity for our students to engage an important figure in the global world around us right here on our campus,” said Jennifer Felton, director of marketing and communications for Buena Vista University. “Each event and set of student panelists bring a new perspective to the conversation, and often result in questions that really challenge the speaker and make this afternoon event a must-attend for everyone involved with Buena Vista University, including students, faculty, staff and key supporters.”

Dr. Rice answered 12 questions during the hour-long student panel session in a relaxed and conversational manner, including observations and lessons learned throughout her career, from her time as provost of Stanford University, to being National Security Advisor and her time as Secretary of State.

There were a variety of question topics, including Dr. Rice’s parents and their contribution to her success; various issues in the Middle East including the Israeli-Palestinian problem, working with Iran and Transformational Diplomacy in Afghanistan; and advice for Buena Vista University students who may endeavor to be diplomats in the future.

In response to one student’s question regarding a reformed immigration visa program, Dr. Rice stated, “Let’s not forget, this country has been greatly served by immigrants. We come from every place on the face of the earth and that is our great strength. People have come here to enrich us, make us young again and drive economic progress.” She then went on to discuss ways to structure immigration while still protecting the laws, including securing the border and recognizing the economic benefits around immigration.

Following the afternoon panel session, there was an evening celebration of the successful conclusion of the largest capital campaign in the university’s history, See Tomorrow: The Campaign for Buena Vista University, where Dr. Rice addressed an audience of close to 400 people with prepared remarks and answered additional questions submitted by event attendees in advance.

The William W. Siebens American Heritage Lecture Series was endowed by the late Dr. Harold Walter Siebens, an Iowa-born entrepreneur and philanthropist, and named in honor of his son. This series was established in 1989 to provide the Buena Vista University campus community, Iowa and the Midwest with access to prominent world figures discussing current issues underlying American freedoms.

Video courtesy of BVU's University Cable Network.