A media champion for common sense-politics and higher education reform will present the 51st Hays Press-Enterprise Lecture. New York Times columnist David Leonhardt will offer the Feb. 27 talk, which will take place between 4-6 p.m. at the UC Riverside Extension Center.
“David Leonhardt is among the most widely read and influential voices for the reimagining of higher education,” said Kim Wilcox, UC Riverside’s chancellor. “I’m excited to have him join us, and his talk is going to offer us all a great deal of evidence-based food for thought.”
The Hays Press-Enterprise Lecture Series was established in 1966 by Howard H “Tim” Hays Jr., then-editor of The Press-Enterprise, in cooperation with UC Riverside. His son, Tom Hays, created an endowment fund to ensure the lecture’s tradition lived on after his father’s death in 2011.
The intent of the lecture series is to bring to Riverside notable journalists to address important topics.
Leonhardt follows in the footsteps of other top-tier journalists who have visited Riverside to deliver the annual lecture, including Katharine Graham, Ben Bradlee, Gail Collins, and Walter Isaacson. In 2019, Maria Hinojosa of National Public Radio’s “Latino USA” presented.
With the 2020 election looming, Leonhardt has opined increasingly on matters related to President Trump and his Democratic challengers, as well as impeachment proceedings. He also weighs in from the perspective of economics in dissecting issues including taxes, technology, and education.
In a May 23, 2019, column, Leonhardt urged parents and students to give more weight in their selection process to colleges with exceptional graduation rates. In that column, he revealed the findings of an analysis of 368 colleges conducted by The Times in partnership with the Urban Institute’s Center on Education Data and Policy.
“For too long, high school students, parents, and guidance counselors have hardly thought about graduation rates when choosing a college,” Leonhardt wrote in the column, which quoted UCR’s Wilcox.
In 2011, Leonhardt won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for his columns. The prize committee noted the columnist’s “graceful penetration of America's complicated economic questions, from the federal budget deficit to health care reform.”
An applied mathematics major at Yale University, Leonhardt’s journalistic roots were in economic analysis. After stints at Business Week and The Washington Post, he joined The New York Times in 1999. During his career at the newspaper, he has penned “Economic Scene,” a weekly economics column, and founded The Time’s Economix blog.
When he was named Washington bureau chief for the Times in 2011, The Atlantic lamented: “There's only one downside … presumably it means that he will do less writing on his own.”
In 2013, Leonhardt became the founding editor of The Upshot section of The Times, which emphasizes data visualization and graphics to offer an analytical approach to the day's news. In 2015, he moved to the op-ed page as a staff columnist. He also produces a daily newsletter and serves as a host of the podcast “The Argument.”
His 2011 Pulitzer win represented Leonhardt’s third nomination, having been nominated in 2003 along with other Times reporters for their coverage of corporate scandals, and in 2010 for his economic columns.
In 2007 and 2009, the Society of American Business Editors and Writers named Leonhardt winner of the “Best in Business Journalism Contest.” In 2009, he also received the Gerald Loeb Award for magazine writing for his New York Times Magazine article, “Obamanomics.”
In 2013, Leonhardt wrote the ebook: "Here's the Deal: How Washington Can Solve the Deficit and Spur Growth.” Of the book, Slate reviewer Matthew Yglesias wrote: “(Leonhardt) steps into the void with a sober, sensible argument that rebalancing America’s budget priorities is deeply desirable, even aside from the question of an imminent fiscal crisis.”
The Thursday, Feb. 27, lecture is free, and registrations are requested. The event will be in conference rooms D and E at the UCR Extension Center. Complimentary parking will be provided in Lot 51, which is next to the Extension building.