Nixon expert Luke Nichter to give campus talk

Alumnus Dr. Luke Nichter will take audiences on “A Journey with Richard Nixon: A Decade of Listening to the Nixon Tapes from Ohio to Texas” during his return to BGSU Sept. 30.

He will speak about his work on the tapes, what we still have to learn from them, and how they have changed research in presidential records. His free talk begins at 2:30 p.m. in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union Theater and will be followed by a reception and book signing. The event is part of the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Lecture Series.

Between February 1971 and July 1972, President Nixon secretly recorded 3,700 hours of his phone calls and meetings across the executive offices. To date, about 3,000 hours of those tapes have been declassified, released and made available to the public. Neither the National Archives nor the Nixon Presidential Library have produced transcriptions or made the complete audio files available online. Instead, they have left this monumental task — which the archives once estimated took 130 hours of staff time to transcribe one hour of tape — to individual researchers and scholars.

In 2005, Nichter started to digitize the tapes, a project that lasted nearly four years. He launched nixontapes.org in 2007 as a public service, the first time the complete digitized tapes could be accessed outside the National Archives. Since then, he has been systematically transcribing the tapes and making them available to the public, producing more of them than anyone else, in the hope that a more informed debate on the Nixon presidency can thus take place.

Originally from Weston, Ohio, Nichter is now an associate professor of history at Texas A&M University-Central Texas and a nationally recognized expert on the Nixon tapes. He has recently published “The Nixon Tapes, 1971-1972,” co-authored with Douglas Brinkley. He is the author of the forthcoming “Richard Nixon and Europe: The Reshaping of the Postwar Atlantic World,” to be published by Cambridge University Press in 2015, which is based on multilingual archival research in six countries. A founder and former executive producer of C-SPAN's American History TV (seen in 41 million homes), Nichter’s work has appeared in or has been reported on by the New York Times, Washington Post, Vanity Fair, and the Associated Press.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in business administration from BGSU in 1999, he returned to complete a doctorate in history, graduating in 2008. As a doctoral student, Nichter spent countless hours listening to the recently released tapes recorded during Nixon’s presidency. His dissertation on the Nixon tapes won the Ohio Academy of History’s Dissertation Prize for outstanding doctoral dissertation in 2009, launching his scholarly career.

As Nichter learned, the infamous tapes go well beyond Nixon and the early 1970s’ Watergate scandal. When he was elected president, Nixon already had almost a quarter century of political life behind him, so the tapes reveal a “cross-section of American life and American society” from that wider era, Nichter said.

His talk is sponsored by the Department of History and the College of Arts and Sciences.The University's efforts to promote and enhance health among its student body have earned it bronze level accreditation from    US Healthiest, a nonprofit dedicated to making the U.S. the healthiest nation in a healthier world.

"BGSU is dedicated to enhancing the lives of their student body from a total-person perspective," said Nick Baird, M.D., CEO of US Healthiest. "Through their programming, such as 'Late Nights,' where students engage in fun activities and learn about health, such as movie nights paired with information on the importance of sleep and work-life balance, BGSU makes healthier choices the fun choice. The peer educator program in which students are actively engaged in giving health-related presentations and actively sharing information on healthy behaviors is fantastic! And the integration of the Counseling Center and the Falcon Health Center provides students with every health support that they might need."

In achieving the HealthLead accreditation, BGSU underwent a two-step evaluation process, including an assessment and an onsite audit evaluating offerings to students, including healthy environmental supports, awareness, education and opportunities to be part of a community where healthier choices are the norm and wellness is inextricably linked to organizational and academic performance.

"Receiving the HealthLead: US Healthiest Campus Accreditation speaks to the dedication our faculty, staff and students have in creating a culture of wellness at BGSU," said Dr. Faith Yingling, Wellness Connection director, who initiated the process. "Our strong collaborative relationships with the campus and community are an integral part of providing comprehensive health management programs and services. Our commitment to assessment allows us to focus on the needs of the students while continuing to improve and enhance our initiatives. We are extremely honored to receive the Bronze Level Accreditation."

Jill Carr, vice president for student affairs, echoed Yingling's pride in the achievement. "On behalf of the Division of Student Affairs, I extend our congratulations and appreciation to our staff and students who worked so hard to achieve this outstanding recognition," she said. "BGSU is committed to providing an all-encompassing curricular and co-curricular experience for our students. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is an important component of this experience. Achieving the Bronze Level HealthLead™ US Healthiest Campus Accreditation status for our student wellness efforts speaks to the credibility and knowledge of our experts in this area."