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Huffington promises to be engaging speaker at O'Bannon Institute

By Mike Leonard 331-4368 |
April 8, 2010

Arianna Huffington is passionate about a great many subjects, as her frequent television appearances and regular columns on her Huffington Post Web site demonstrate.

Tuesday morning, the blogosphere was crackling with observations and reports on her dust-up with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on the television program “Morning Joe.” Commenting on the former mayor’s endorsement of candidate Marco Rubio over Gov. Charlie Crist in the Florida race for U.S. Senate, Huffington recalled Giuliani’s embrace of convicted felon Bernard Kerik and commented, “Your judgment in people isn’t exactly stellar.”

When Giuliani and program host Joe Scarborough protested what they called a personal attack, Huffington said the former mayor’s influence was exaggerated, anyway, noting “the man spent $50 million in the presidential race and got one delegate.”

Detractors sometimes forget — or don’t know — that the 59-year-old public intellectual was once the president of England’s Cambridge Union Society, one of the world’s most distinguished debate forums.
Huffington also is passionate about education, which makes her a strong choice as the capstone speaker for this year’s O’Bannon Institute for Community Service at Ivy Tech. This year’s theme is “K-16 Education: Challenges and Opportunities in the New Decade.” She will speak at 2:30 p.m. Friday in the school’s student commons.

In a phone interview this week, she said she was excited to speak at an education forum and particularly at a thriving community college such as Ivy Tech. “Community colleges are incredibly important and I’m really glad the president is giving renewed attention to them,” she said. “It’s very exciting to see them seen as an essential part of our higher education system.”

Huffington also said it’s an exciting time for K-12 education. “No Child Left Behind has been a disaster, but I think what is exciting is to see the work (education secretary) Arne Duncan is doing. This is some of the most innovative work the new administration is doing, and it’s part of what I want to talk about Friday.”

Duncan has sought to change the education policies put in place by former President George W. Bush and measure the growth and gain of all students instead of only tracking how many students meet state standards.
Huffington said Indiana’s move from funding education primarily through property taxes, a fairly reliable funding source, was ill-conceived. “Proposition 13 (which capped property taxes) was a real disaster for California, especially when it comes to public education,” she said. “Even Warren Buffett came out during (Arnold) Schwarzenegger’s race and said, ‘We should look at this again’. It isn’t working.”

Huffington said America is lagging in innovation at a time when it needs new ideas and new ways of doing things.

While her own Huffington Post has been criticized for being a news aggregator — compiling content from various sources — and a blog source that doesn’t pay its bloggers, it has been successful. It recently topped the 40 million mark for unique visitors in a month.

She also pointed out that last year, through grants and other funding sources, the Huffington Post Investigative Fund launched with a budget of $1.75 million to pay for the kind of investigative journalism pieces many papers are cutting during difficult financial times.

Huffington also noted that her own “Move Your Money” initiative “is doing incredibly well” and was profiled Tuesday night on PBS. Founded on the principle that the citizen finances should not be dictated by banks that are “too big to fail,” and that smaller, community banks reinvest in their own locales, the idea is taking off nationally. According to a recent Zogby poll, 9 percent of U.S. adults have taken at least some of their money out of the big banks to protest abuses and bailouts.

Friday’s events
Schedule of Friday events at Ivy Tech’s Bloomington campus (includes listing of panelists)

8:30 a.m. — Registration (Continental Breakfast)

9 a.m. — Welcome Remarks by Chancellor of Ivy Tech’s Bloomington campus John Whikehart & Former Indiana First Lady Judy O’Bannon

9:40 a.m. — Panel Discussion One — Higher Education Officials
Jo Ann M. Gora, President, Ball State University
Daniel J. Bradley, President, Indiana State University
Don Doucette, Senior Vice President/Provost, Ivy Tech Community College
John Applegate, Vice President for Planning & Policy, Indiana University
Vic Lechtenberg, Vice Provost for Engagement, Purdue University
Moderator: Chuck Carney Director of Communications & Media Relations, School of Education, Indiana University

11 a.m. — Panel Discussion Two — Area Superintendents
Tony Bennett, Indiana Superintendant of Public Instruction
J.T. Coopman, Superintendent, Monroe County Community School Corp.
Steve Kain, Superintendent, Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corp.
Ty Mungle, Superintendent, Eastern Greene Schools
Dennis Turner, Superintendent, North Lawrence Community Schools
Moderator: Anne Shane, Ivy Tech Community College State Trustee; Vice President, BioCrossroads

Noon — Lunch Provided

1:15 p.m. — Panel Discussion Three — State Policy Experts
Gerardo González, Dean, School of Education, Indiana University
Scott Jenkins, Governor’s Senior Policy Director for Education
Teresa Lubbers, Commissioner, Indiana Commission for Higher Education
Greg Porter, Chairman of the Indiana House Education Committee
Terry Spradlin, Associate Director for Education Policy, Indiana University
Moderator: Gerry Dick, Host, Inside Indiana Business

2:30 p.m. — Conversation with co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post and nationally syndicated columnist, Arianna Huffington, moderated by The Herald-Times Editor Bob Zaltsberg
Arianna Huffington
Arianna Huffington

Copyright: 2010