Harold Holzer

Baccalaureate speaker Harold Holzer is a leading authority on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era. Photo: Contributed

Scholar, Lincoln Expert Harold Holzer Named 2023 Baccalaureate Speaker

Baccalaureate, a major university event during Commencement weekend, will be held at 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 20, in Packer Memorial Church.

Lincoln expert Harold Holzer, the Jonathan F. Fanton Director of Hunter College's Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute, will be Lehigh’s 2023 Baccalaureate speaker. A major university event during Commencement weekend, Baccalaureate will be held at 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 20, in Packer Memorial Church. Reservations are not required.

Harold Holzer is a leading authority on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era. A journalist by background who served for 23 years as senior vice-president for public affairs at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Holzer is author, co-author or editor of 55 books and more than 600 articles and reviews.

A sought-after lecturer, he has made numerous television and media appearances, including interviews on Bill Moyers Journal, National Geographic Television, and programs sponsored by The History Channel and CNN. He has appeared over 200 times on C-SPAN. His most recent book is "The Presidents vs. the Press: The Endless Battle Between the White House and the Media—From the Founding Fathers to Fake News," (2020) a balanced account of presidents and the media that The Washington Post hailed as "a lively, deeply researched story" filled with "colorful detail." He served as historical consultant for the Steven Spielberg film "Lincoln."

Lloyd Steffen, Lehigh University Chaplain and professor of religious studies, said Holzer will offer this year’s graduates a reminder that today’s social and political turmoil is not new.

“Mr. Holzer’s deep immersion in the history of American divisions leading up to the Civil War, and then during the war itself, is a tragic history we need to continue to confront and learn from," he said. "Holzer has performed an admirable service by helping us to see that history in depth and detail.”

Steffen noted, “Many are comparing America’s divisions today with those of the 1850s. The struggles of the mid-19th century were over the future for democratic institutions and the need for leaders who, despite their flaws, can act with courage to advance a moral vision centered on human dignity and equality before the law. Mr. Holzer knows this American story as well as anyone.”

Holzer has received numerous awards for his work, including several honorary degrees and the 2015 Lincoln Prize for "Lincoln and the Power of the Press." President Clinton appointed him co-chair of the U. S. Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, and President Bush awarded Holzer the National Humanities Medal in 2008.

Holzer served as press secretary to Congresswoman Bella Abzug early in his career and was public affairs director for the PBS flagship station WNET. In his current position at Roosevelt House, he oversees academic programs for Hunter College undergraduates in public policy and human rights and hosts public programs on history and current events.

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