Lisle, Illinois ~ Political reporter. Campaign strategist. Presidential advisor. Idealist.
David Axelrod, who guided Barack Obama's historic journey from freshman senator to president of the United States, has worn many hats during a career that has taken him from the historic Tribune Tower to the hallowed hallways of the White House. Few people have had as great an impact on the nation's political landscape.
Axelrod, the chief campaign strategist for President Obama's re-election bid, will speak at Benedictine University at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 23 on the second floor of the Krasa Student Center.
His visit is sponsored by the Center for Civic Leadership as part of its "Presidential Election Series 2012." The event is free and open to the public.
"We are pleased to be able to welcome Mr. Axelrod to our campus," said William J. Carroll, Ph.D., president of Benedictine University. "As a Catholic, liberal arts university, Benedictine is charged with developing an informed electorate."
Axelrod was born in New York in 1955. His mother was a newspaper journalist and his father a psychologist. Axelrod marks the beginning of his passion for politics at the age of 5 when he heard Sen. John F. Kennedy speak just days before the 1960 presidential election. He later attended the University of Chicago and studied political science.
After graduation, he worked at the Chicago Tribune for eight years, becoming the City Hall bureau chief before leaving to pursue a career in political campaigns. He helped Paul Simon win a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1984 and shortly afterward founded his own consulting firm, Axelrod & Associates (later known as AKP&D Message and Media).
Axelrod gained a national reputation for helping to elect African-American politicians, including the late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, who became the city's first African-American mayor in 1983. He also served as a top advisor to former President Bill Clinton. However, his most defining moment came with Obama's election to the presidency in 2008.
In January 2011, Axelrod left the White House to join Obama's re-election campaign in Chicago.
Established in 2005 under the direction of former Illinois Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Ryan, CCL seeks to shape a new generation of public leaders and responsible citizens. Each year, the Center invites prominent public figures to speak about the importance of active citizenship and public service.
In recent years, CCL has hosted then-state Sen. Obama, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R.-Ill.), Washington Post columnists Bob Woodward and David Broder, CNN's Peter Bergen, Children's Defense Fund Director Marian Wright Edelman, University of Chicago legal scholar Cass Sunstein, human rights advocate Paul Rusesabagina and former Illinois Gov. James Edgar.
Benedictine plans to invite a representative of the Republican Party to speak at the University in the fall.
"We will also invite a speaker to talk on behalf of the Republican presidential nominee when they have chosen a candidate at their national convention in August," Carroll said.
Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois and Mesa, Arizona. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 55 undergraduate majors and 15 graduate and four doctoral programs. Benedictine University is ranked No. 1 among the country's fastest-growing campuses between 2002-2012 in The Chronicle of Higher Education's list of private nonprofit doctoral institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the fourth consecutive year in 2014. Benedictine University's Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain's Chicago Business as the sixth largest in the Chicago area in 2014.