SUU’s Benson to Speak at Presidential Library
July 09, 2008
Southern Utah University President Michael Benson will speak at the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Mo. next week as part of the library’s annual Summer Teacher’s Conference.
This year’s conference will focus on the year 1948, and Benson, a scholar concerning the achievements and character of Truman, will speak on Truman and the founding of Israel.
Benson’s presentation will examine the 33rd president’s decision—in the face of staunch opposition from his closest advisors—to recognize the state of Israel in May of 1948. Benson will focus on Truman’s leadership concerning the Jewish restoration to Palestine, an issue Truman deemed “a basic human problem.”
According to Benson, the relevance of this topic has not waned over time. States Benson, “given the relevance of the Middle East in our everyday lives, the role of the United States generally and of President Truman specifically as it relates to the recognition of Israel is still very much a widely-debated topic.”
When asked of his intentions for next week’s presentation, Benson stated, “My hope is to add something of worth and interest to those teachers who are charged with making history come alive for their students.”
In 1997, Benson’s book Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel was published. Since then, Benson’s expertise in Middle Eastern history has led to several consulting contracts, including past work as a consulting historian and essayist for the Harry S. Truman Library. Benson is regularly sought after for speaking engagements on the modern Middle East, and as such, is well-qualified to speak on the topic at-hand.
A true devotee to Truman’s ideals, Benson claims to have spent “nearly two months researching and writing” for his book on the 33rd president. States Benson, “I very much look forward to returning to the Truman Library; it almost feels like going home.”
Dedicated in 1957 in Truman’s hometown, the Harry S. Truman Library was the first presidential library dedicated under the 1955 Presidential Libraries Act. The library contains papers, film and sound clips, news articles and memorabilia from Truman’s life and presidency.
Benson will join scholars and historians from across the North American continent as one of just ten speakers at the teacher’s conference. His presentation will be held on Thursday, July 17, the fourth day of a five-day conference.