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Bill Clinton to speak at Brown lecture

Former President will speak at Shearer lecture in honor of family friend, late alum

Former president Bill Clinton will speak at the University’s Casey Shearer ’00 lecture March 19, according to an email sent out to students in the English Nonfiction program.

Tickets will be released in early March for University students, faculty and staff, wrote Mikele St-Germain, associate director for event management, in an email to The Herald. The University will announce the lecture on Today@Brown at a later date with more information, including its location.

In honor of Shearer, an aspiring sports broadcaster who died unexpectedly days before graduating, the lecture has historically brought prominent journalists to campus.

Past speakers include Washington Post sportswriter Thomas Boswell in 2001, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman in 2003 and ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman ’77 in conversation with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick in 2004. More recently, the lecture has featured Wall Street Journal film critic Joe Morgenstern and New Yorker staff writer Sarah Stillman. Speakers for the Shearer lecture “always come for no honorarium,” said English Professor Elizabeth Taylor, who taught Shearer while he was an undergraduate student at the University.

The 42nd president’s visit to campus marks the twentieth anniversary of Clinton’s speaking at Shearer’s memorial service in Sayles Hall in 2000.

Shearer’s parents had maintained a close relationship with the Clintons, Taylor said. Both Shearer’s parents — former Mayor of Santa Monica and former Chairman of the United States Postal Regulatory Commission Ruth Goldway, and former Ambassador to Finland Derek Shearer — were involved in the Clinton administration. Shearer’s father met Clinton long before he was president, while Clinton was studying at Oxford.

In 2000, M. Charles Bakst, then a political columnist for the Providence Journal, wrote about the remarks of a “tearful president” who spoke candidly about Shearer, arm wrapped around then-first lady Hillary Clinton.

“Whether you live for 20 years or 50 or 80 or 100, it doesn’t take long to live a life … Casey Shearer had a great life,” Clinton said at the service.

“It was a shock when Casey died. Clinton came right up. He said, ‘I’ll be there for the memorial,’” Taylor said. “It was awful of course, but he was eloquent.”

Goldway asked Clinton to return for the 20th anniversary, Taylor added.

Taylor said that she does not know what Clinton plans to discuss during his lecture.

“We’re not asking him anything in particular,” Taylor said. “People who have come, they talk about writing and researching — it isn’t always that. Clinton will … talk about whatever comes to his mind, talking about Casey.”

Clinton’s visit will follow that of Theresa May, the former United Kingdom prime minister, as the second head of state to speak on campus this March. According to St-Germain, the University will implement a “heightened level of security” as they would with “any former U.S. President or foreign dignitary.”

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Shearer's father met Clinton while "they were both undergraduate students at Yale." In fact, Clinton completed his undergraduate studies at Georgetown, and Shearer and Clinton met while Clinton was studying at Oxford. The Herald regrets the error.


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