Tonight at 7 p.m. Arkansas Surgeon General Greg Bledsoe will address the student body in the FMA as part of the 2021 Presidential Leadership Series. He will use his experiences of working in politics to share with students about the importance of living by faith in a non-Christian work environment.
Bledsoe, who graduated from BJU in 1995, went on to become an emergency medicine physician. He worked for five years in the Johns Hopkins Department of Emergency Medicine and received the teacher of the year award in 2005 from the department.
Bledsoe has also been involved in several American diplomatic missions, including serving as the personal doctor for President Bill Clinton during the administration’s tours to Africa. He has served as the Arkansas Surgeon General since his appointment in 2015 by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, another BJU alumnus, and is currently running for lieutenant governor in the 2022 Arkansas gubernatorial race.
The BJU president’s office presents the Presidential Leadership Series, an annual event in which a guest speaker addresses a modern-day issue. This year’s event will be the fifth since BJU President Dr. Steve Pettit revamped the series.
The series allows students to interact with influential people, and tonight’s event will include an optional Q&A session afterward for students interested in asking Bledsoe questions.
Randy Page, BJU’s chief of staff, has been collaborating with Pettit to organize the event.
“The president selects speakers that he believes the student body needs to hear from on a wide variety of topics and issues,” he said. “Essentially, as a Christian liberal arts university, we want to expand the horizons of our students so that they can hear about and see different issues that will have a powerful impact on how they approach life.”
Courtney Montgomery, the BJU public relations assistant responsible for setting up the event, believes the Presidential Leadership Series is an important event for students to be a part of. “Go into it with an open mind,” she said. “Often students think of these events as just some boring VIP person who’s in politics or government,” she said. “A lot of students are not interested in those areas of thought, but it’s these unique opportunities you only get to have in college.”
“These people are in high-profile positions, and many have worked with presidents and with the Supreme Court and will get to be a part of pivotal moments in this nation’s history,” Montgomery said. “Even if history is not your thing, these speakers have insight about many important life events, and there’s a lot to learn from them. It’s kind of like living history.”
Montgomery enjoyed her involvement in planning the event. “[The selected speakers] are thought leaders, whether they’re people who are in politics, over major organizations or involved in some other way that directs public thought,” she said.
“We start talking to possible speakers six to eight months before the event is scheduled. They don’t just have openings on their schedule. If we tried to schedule a speaker any time closer to the day of than six to eight months out, they probably wouldn’t be able to commit.”
Page echoed this sentiment. “The world’s a big place, and you need to consistently be open to hearing other perspectives,” he said. “And I think for so many of our students, they don’t think that government or the political process affects them directly, but it does.”
At the last Presidential Leadership Series in 2019 Paul Isaacs spoke about the Save the Storks organization.