Democrat Howard Dean and Republican Newt Gingrich to keynote 2018 World Leaders Forum at Judson University

By Tom Siebert

Hoping to generate less heat and more light in the global political debate, Judson University has scheduled ex-Vermont Governor Howard Dean and former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to speak, not spar, at the Christian college’s seventh World Leaders Forum next spring.


“In a world that is becoming increasingly politically divided, Judson University is honored to host a conversation highlighting the importance of civility in political discourse,” said university President Gene Crume. “We believe in presenting our campus and our community with a balanced approach to understanding divergent ideologies by fostering respectful dialogue.”

Mr. Dean and Mr. Gingrich, both of whom were once front runners for their respective parties’ presidential nominations, are set to keynote the 2018 World Leaders Forum, entitled “A Bipartisan Conversation About Leadership in Divided Times.”

The event is slated for April 19 at Judson’s campus in northwest suburban Elgin, followed by a VIP reception and photo opportunity in Chicago. The two political leaders will be sharing a stage for the first time since 2011.

Howard Dean served as governor of Vermont from 1991 to 2003, gaining a national reputation for fiscal responsibility as well as promoting equality and opportunity for the state’s residents. Governor Dean was named public official of the year by Governing magazine in 2002.

He ran for president in 2004, coming in second place for the Democratic nomination behind Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. Mr. Dean then ran the Democratic National Committee from 2005-2009, helping his party take control of the House of Representatives in 2006 and the Senate in 2008. He is a frequent guest on political talk shows.

Newt Gingrich was first elected to the House from Georgia in 1978 and served until 1999. He was House minority whip from 1989-1995 and speaker from 1995-1999. Under his leadership, the House passed welfare reform, the first balanced budget in a generation, and the first tax cut in 16 years. In addition, funding was restored to strengthen defense and intelligence capabilities, an action later lauded by the bipartisan 9/11 Commission.

Mr. Gingrich ran a surprisingly strong campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, which was eventually won by Arizona Senator John McCain. He has published 35 books, including 15 New York Times bestsellers. He is currently a Fox News contributor and senior advisor at Dentons, the world’s largest law firm.

Previous keynoters at the World Leaders Forum were former President George W. Bush, ex-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, and Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan.

The forum affords Judson students and the Chicagoland community an opportunity to be inspired by significant thought leaders. Proceeds fund Judson leadership scholarships, innovative entrepreneurial activities, and ongoing operations of the World Leaders Forum.

Judson University offers a Christian liberal arts and sciences education through its bachelor of arts degrees for more than 60 majors, minors, and graduate programs. Also offered are online certification and accelerated adult-degree programs. For more information, visit



About Tom Siebert

Tom Siebert received a journalism degree from the University of Illinois and worked as a staff writer for newspapers in California, Florida, and Illinois. He reported general news, interviewed entertainment figures, and covered elected office holders––including four presidents and a pope. More significantly, Tom profiled human suffering in the form of a homeless man dying of AIDS, a college cheerleader battling Hodgkin's disease, and a senior couple living the long goodbye of Alzheimer's. He also worked as a copyeditor and proofreader for Tyndale House, a Christian publisher based in the Chicago suburbs. Tom is presently self-employed as an editor of Christian books. In addition, he serves as community relations director for Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) of Kendall County, Illinois. And Tom is on the leadership team for the Celebrate Recovery ministry at his church, Harvest New Beginnings, in Oswego, a suburb west of Chicago. He may be contacted at or (816) 344-7815.
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