President Clinton to speak at private UA event

President Bill Clinton visits the Clinton House Museum in August 2010.

Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

President Bill Clinton will visit the University of Arkansas as the inaugural speaker of the Dale and Betty Bumpers Distinguished Lecture Program.

The invitation-only event kicks off a new initiative by the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.

Clinton’s speech is set for 5 p.m. April 15 in the Arkansas Union ballroom.

Due to security concerns, attendees are discouraged from bringing bags or purses to the lecture. The UA Police Department will search bags and purses of all invited guests.

Clinton was last on campus in August 2010 for several events including a visit to the Clinton House Museum, the home where he and Hillary Rodham Clinton were married and lived from 1975-76.

Michael Vayda, dean of Bumpers College, said the idea is to honor Dale and Betty Bumpers annually for their continue impact on the college, university, state, nation and world.

“We are thrilled to welcome President Clinton as our inaugural speaker,” said Vayda. “His shared passions and close friendship with the couple make him the most fitting guest to kick off this exciting program.”

From the release:

The annual lecture program symbolizes Bumpers College’s recognition of three vital issues: the international prominence of Arkansas agricultural and food industries; the importance of environmental stewardship for the strength and vibrancy of our economy; and the quality of life as championed by Betty Bumpers on behalf of child wellness, human development and healthy living choices.

Betty Flanagan Bumpers has dedicated her life to issues affecting children’s health, empowering women and the cause of world peace. A former art teacher educated at Iowa State, the University of Arkansas, and the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, Betty Bumpers is the mother of three children and has seven grandchildren.

When she became first lady of Arkansas, the state had one of the lowest immunization rates in the nation. Mrs. Bumpers spearheaded a statewide immunization program for childhood vaccinations, and the state achieved one of the highest immunization rates in the country. Her advocacy led to the first federal initiative in comprehensive childhood immunization, launched in 1977. These efforts led to laws in every state requiring vaccinations before entry into school. Today, more than 95 percent of American children are immunized by the time they go to school.

In 1982, Mrs. Bumpers, concerned about the growing nuclear arms race, formed Peace Links to shift the way people think about peace and nuclear war. For 20 years, Peace Links worked to educate communities about a new concept of national security, the value of cultural diversity, non-violent conflict resolution, global cooperation, citizen diplomacy, violence prevention and peace building. She currently serves on the National Peace Foundation Advisory Council.

Dale Bumpers attended the University of Arkansas, spent three years in the Marine Corps during World War II, earned a law degree at Northwestern University and returned home to Charleston, Ark., in 1952. There, he practiced law, raised cattle and operated a small hardware, furniture and appliance store. He also served as city attorney, school board president and president of the Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Bumpers served with distinction for four years as governor of Arkansas from 1971 to 1975, and then for 24 years in the United States Senate, from 1975 until his retirement in 1999. In 1996, the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees recognized his service by renaming Bumpers College in his honor.

During his Senate service, particularly as a member and chair of the Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee, Bumpers played a major role in bringing Arkansas agriculture into national and international prominence. He worked for and secured more than $80 million in funds for facilities and programs that directly benefited the state.

Bumpers’ efforts in Congress secured federal funding to develop several projects and initiatives in the agricultural, food and life sciences for Arkansas.

After his retirement from the Senate, Bumpers served as director of the Center for Defense Information. He also served as Distinguished Professor of Public Policy at the University of Arkansas, and Guest Lecturer at Hendrix College. In the year 2000, in a poll of Arkansas political scientists, Bumpers was the only governor in the 20th century to achieve the ranking of “great.”

Bill Clinton was the first Democratic president in six decades to be elected twice – first in 1992 and then in 1996. Under his leadership, the country enjoyed the strongest economy in a generation and the longest economic expansion in U.S. history, including the creation of more than 22 million jobs. As governor of Arkansas from 1983 to 1992, Clinton overhauled the state’s education system and served as chair of the National Governor’s Association.

Building on a lifetime of public service, Clinton established the William J. Clinton Foundation with the mission to improve global health, strengthen economies, promote healthier childhoods, and protect the environment by fostering partnerships among governments, businesses, nongovernmental organizations, and private citizens to turn good intentions into measurable results.