Over the past month, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has been making almost daily headlines with his agency’s groundbreaking policy on net neutrality. Wheeler, who stands at the center of a stormy dialogue on the issue, recently announced a set of strong, sustainable rules to protect the open Internet as a platform for innovation, free expression and economic growth. In the face of opposition from Republican lawmakers and some business leaders, Wheeler argued that the open Internet was at risk without federal regulations to ensure that America’s broadband networks will remain open, fast, and fair.
Wheeler will appear at Washington College on Thursday, April 2, for the Spring 2015 Richard Harwood Lecture in American Journalism, hosted by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience. His talk, “On the Front Lines of the Digital Revolution,” will take place at 5:30 p.m. in Hynson Lounge, Hodson Hall. Cosponsored by the Department of Business Management and the Louis L. Goldstein Program in Public Affairs, the program is free and open to the general public.
“We’re exceptionally honored to welcome Tom Wheeler as a lecturer in the Harwood Series at such a historic moment,” said Adam Goodheart, the Starr Center’s Hodson Trust-Griswold Director, who will lead an onstage conversation with Wheeler following the speaker’s formal remarks. “It’s a rare opportunity to hear from a leading policymaker right in the midst of the most critical chapter of his public life. Moreover, Wheeler is a distinguished historian who will also offer the ‘long view’ of how the ongoing digital revolution relates to past moments of epochal change in how human beings communicate.”
After the FCC’s vote on February 25, the Los Angeles Times called it “a landmark decision for the future of the Internet,” while the New York Times hailed “the longest, most sustained campaign of Internet activism in history, one that the little guys appear to have won.” Meanwhile, telecommunications giant Verizon issued a statement – in Morse code, no less – accusing Wheeler of trying to roll back telecommunications to the 1930s.
Appointed FCC chairman in 2013 by President Barack Obama, Wheeler brings to his position vast experience in the fast-paced and ever-evolving communications field. For more than three decades he has been one of the nation’s leading communications policy experts, advocates and entrepreneurs in both the public and private sector, and has been hailed as a top ten innovator in the history of wireless communications.
In addition his role in Washington at the helm of the agency tasked with communications law, regulation and technological innovation, Wheeler is also a historian of technology. His books, Take Command: Leadership Lessons of the Civil War (Doubleday, 2000) and Mr. Lincoln’s T-Mails: The Untold Story of How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War (HarperCollins, 2006), connect the current Digital Revolution to past eras of technological upheaval. Wheeler’s commentaries have been published in the Washington Post, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, and other publications. Wheeler has also served as a Trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Foundation for the National Archives, and the Public Broadcasting Service.
Washington College’s Harwood Lecture Series in American Journalism was established to honor the distinguished career of the late Washington Post columnist and ombudsman Richard Harwood, who served as a trustee of the College, as well as a teacher and mentor of undergraduate journalists. Speakers in the series have included many leading figures in politics and the press. The journalistic tradition has also continued in Harwood’s own family; his son, John Harwood, has had a distinguished career as a political correspondent and columnist for CNBC, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.
Founded in 1782 under the patronage of George Washington, Washington College is a private, independent college of liberal arts and sciences located in colonial Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience is dedicated to fostering innovative approaches to the American past and present. Through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach, and a special focus on written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between the academic world and the public at large.