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Arianna Huffington to speak at Ivy Tech's O'Bannon Institute in April

By Mike Leonard 331-4368 |
February 25, 2010

Arianna Huffington will be the capstone guest speaker for Ivy Tech’s annual O’Bannon Institute for Community Service program in April.

Ivy Tech Bloomington Chancellor John Whikehart said the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post will participate in a public “conversation” at the Bloomington campus on April 9.

Huffington’s appearance at Ivy Tech will follow by one day a speech by former First Lady Laura Bush, who will speak on April 8.

The Institute’s 2010 theme is K-16 Education: Challenges and Opportunities in the New Decade. Panel discussions will focus on the leading prospects and concerns for area educators, policy makers and administrators in the coming decade.

“When we talked to Arianna about possibly coming to Bloomington she made us aware of her own public speeches and interest in education,” Whikehart said. “I think she’s going to be fairly hard for people to pinpoint and say she’s always been extremely liberal or that she’s even a liberal on education.”

A Greek national known for her pronounced accent, Huffington was educated at Cambridge University in England and was president of the Cambridge Union Society, a world famous debate forum. She first became publicly known in the U.S. as an intellectual, in part due to her dense and thorough biographies of Maria Callas and Pablo Picasso. Huffington married oil magnate Michael Huffington and developed a reputation as a prominent conservative during and after her then-husband’s unsuccessful 1994 bid for a California senate seat. She was a supporter of Newt Gingrich’s “Republican Revolution” and supported Republican Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential candidacy.

Huffington later broke ranks with Gingrich and the conservative movement and her Huffington Post is regarded as progressive or liberal in its political positioning.

“I enjoy bringing speakers to campus who broaden the perception of what our college is. We try to bring a broad perspective of opinions to our students and community,” Whikehart said.

“I just had a person on campus today say it’s really nice to have two such strong women personalities, from different points on the political spectrum, coming in for the same three-day event,” Whikehart said. “We weren’t thinking exactly that when we put the program together but I’m pleased at how it’s turned out.”

Arianna Huffington