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Media advisory: Faculty experts on State of the Union topics available to speak with press

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

LAWRENCE — President Barack Obama will discuss themes from the State of the Union address during his visit to the University of Kansas on Thursday, Jan. 22. Several KU faculty recognized nationally for their research on policy areas highlighted by the president will be available to speak with media at event. Each will be available at Anschutz Sports Pavilion, site of Thursday’s event.


William Elliott III
Associate professor of social welfare; director of KU’s Assets and Education Initiative

Elliott can speak about President Obama’s calls to make higher education more accessible for all Americans. He has written extensively on the value of relying on assets to pay for higher education instead of loans. His research has shown that students with savings are as much as six times more likely to attend college than their peers without savings. Even when the amount of savings is modest, students are more likely to continue their education after high school, his work has shown.

Elliott has written extensively on the United States’ “bifurcated welfare system” and how it prevents educational equality. He advocates for the establishment of Child Savings Accounts, which would begin savings at birth, and has consulted several states and cities that have implemented such measures, as well as the Federal Reserve Bank and members of Congress who introduced the American Dream Accounts Act.


Martin Dickinson
Robert A. Schroeder Distinguished Professor of Law

Dickinson is a nationally recognized expert on tax law who recently appeared on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" to discuss Kansas tax policy. He can address President Obama’s proposals on income tax, estate tax and related tax issues. He has been part of the KU faculty since 1967 and was dean of the School of Law from 1971 to 1980.

The Kansas Bar Association has conferred the President’s Award for Outstanding Service and the Phil Lewis Medal of Distinction on Dickinson. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, American College of Tax Counsel and American Bar Foundation.

To speak with Elliott or Dickinson, contact Mike Krings, KU News Service, 785-864-8860, or mkrings@ku.edu.


Alesha Doan
Associate professor of political science; chair of the Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Doan can address women’s issues, including Title IX, the national conversation on sexual assault on campus and national political issues. Her broad research focuses on women's issues and the intersection of public policy and social movements. She is leading a research team investigating gender integration in the military. Doan's leadership on activism surrounding prevention of sexual assaults led KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little last fall to appoint her as co-chair of a campuswide sexual assault task force. The task force, composed of students, faculty and staff, is reviewing all current policies, practices and sanctions, and will provide recommendations to the chancellor and provost on improving them.


Patrick Miller
Assistant professor of political science

Miller can speak about the national political climate facing both the president and the new Republican-controlled Congress. Miller’s research focuses on media and politics, race and politics, elections, campaign finance, public opinion and surveys.

Robert "Robin" Rowland
Professor of communication studies

Rowland researches political rhetoric, including political debates and the rhetoric of presidents. In November 2006, he was honored by the National Communication Association with the Donald H. Ecroyd Award for Outstanding Teaching in Higher Education and in 2011 with the Douglas W. Ehninger Rhetorical Scholar Award. He is one of two people in the discipline to be honored with lifetime awards for scholarship and teaching, and he is among the discipline’s 50 most published scholars.

Recently, he published a journal article on the first 2012 presidential debate. While public opinion declared Mitt Romney the decisive winner, Rowland said President Barack Obama proved to be the superior debater. He found that unlike previous debates, the public’s focus shifted from the quality of the argument to the use of political theater.


Christina Bejarano
Associate professor of political science

Bejarano is available to talk about U.S. politics and the president’s policy proposals stressed during this week's speeches. Her work focuses on women and Latinos in U.S. electoral politics, both their voting trends and political candidates. She has written two books: "The Latino Advantage: Gender, Race and Political Success" and "The Latino Gender Gap in U.S. Politics.”

To speak with Doan, Miller, Rowland or Bejarano, contact George Diepenbrock, KU News Service, 785-864-8853 or gdiepenbrock@ku.edu.

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