JES Global Summit hosts George W. Bush


Michael Guido, Managing & Sports Editor

Former President George W. Bush was the keynote speaker at the Jefferson Educational Society’s annual Global Summit speaker series Tuesday night.

The event, which was hosted at the Bayfront Convention Center, was closed to the press and the public at-large.

The event featured a plethora of guests, including Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., who kicked off the event with moderator Steve Scully and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, whom Bush chose to serve as the nation’s first secretary of Homeland Security.

The topics of discussion revolved around freedom and security and America’s role in the 21st century.

Students from Gannon attended the event and said they found it interesting and worthwhile.

David Thompson, a senior criminal justice major, said that hearing a former president speak was a special moment and he liked what Bush had to say.

“Honestly, I never thought I’d get to see an ex-president speak in Erie,” Thompson said. “With that said, I thought it was an exciting event that featured some interesting takes on a lot of big issues facing not just the United States, but the world as a whole.”

Thompson said that he hopes the JES brings in more big speakers for future events.

“I think if the JES continues to find speakers like Bush, the Global Summit will grow its base in Erie and especially among students at Gannon that aren’t so politically inclined.”

Maxwell Fulmer, a senior philosophy major, said that the event was fantastic and that it was very informative.

“The staff was very helpful, and it was run efficiently,” Fulmer said. “I thought President Bush’s talk was unique, providing some interesting perspectives on the current political climate from the lens of the nation’s former leaders.”

Nathan Manion, a senior political science major, said that while he enjoyed the event generally, he felt Bush’s takes on the Iraq War and the Great Recession showed a failure to reflect.

“I felt that President Bush didn’t really own up to some of the mistakes his administration made, which I feel is the point of these open forums,” Manion said. “Honestly, I just wasn’t satisfied with some of his answers.”

Derrick Gernatt, a senior finance, accounting and economics major, said that Bush’s worries over the emergence of China and Russia as serious geopolitical threats was interesting.

“I think President Bush brought up the very real reality that is the emerging powers of the east Asian world,” Gernatt said. “Definitely, the focus needs to be on how we can coexist and get ahead concurrently.”

Molly Begeman, a sophomore public service & global affairs and history major, said she believes Bush’s visit will be remembered for a long time.

“The event with former President George W. Bush was one that will make Erie history,” Begeman said.

“Having such an influential and powerful leader come was such a fantastic experience to have. I believe that any student that was able to go should be grateful and hopefully be able to take something away from these powerful individuals.”

The Global Summit continues with events Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with all three events set to take place at the Yehl Ballroom.