It was busy semester at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, with the culmination of the 2024 primary season. Over the past few months, the Institute hosted a diverse array of programs that have sparked thought-provoking discussions and provided valuable insights into various aspects of politics, history, and civic engagement. From captivating author visits and thought-provoking panel discussions to commemorative milestones and insightful lectures, there has been something for everyone to enjoy and learn from. Check out some highlights:

Kevin B. Harrington Ambassadors on the set of the 2024 primary debate
Kevin B. Harrington Student Ambassadors gathered for the 2024 Primary debate

Starting off the semester was the end of 2024 First in the Nation Primary season, as elections took place on January 23. Institute student ambassadors worked in a variety of roles during that time, gaining real-world experience with media outlets and political campaigns. On campus, two separate watch parties were hosted on election night with Scripps Media and NewsNation, which offered a further glimpse into behind-the-scenes news production.

As the dust settled from the extremely busy primary season, our students and faculty focused on more traditional campus programing, taking a momentary break from the 2024 election cycle.

In February, the Institute hosted a month-long exhibit, “An Enduring Presence: The Old Man of the Mountain,” curated by the Museum of the White Mountains. On loan from the museum, the exhibit commemorated the 20th anniversary of the iconic symbol’s fall in May 2003. It was a visual timeline, exploring the cultural significance of the “Old Man” profile, its identity as a New Hampshire state symbol, and its role in political and commercial materials.

James B. Conroy speaking at the NHIOP about his new book
James B. Conroy speaking about his new book "The Devils Will Get No Rest: FDR, Churchill, and the Plan that Won the War"

Next, as part of the Presidents’ Day edition to the Institute’s Bookmark Series, author James B. Conroy visited the Hilltop on February 21. At that time, he discussed his most recent book, “The Devils Will Get No Rest: FDR, Churchill, and the Plan that Won the War,” a character-driven account of the Casablanca Conference of 1943, where Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and their military chiefs planned a winning strategy at the turning point of World War II. The unique title of the book was inspired by the discussions between the Anglo-American allies over waging a bombing campaign of attrition over Germany, and one of the men affirmed the strategy by saying “the devils shall get no rest.”

Also, in February, the Kevin B. Harrington Student Ambassadors hosted their first Pizza and Politics of the semester. The speaker was Politics major and Campaign Management minor Amani Clemons ’24, who is the Communications Committee Co-Chair for the ambassador program. She discussed various student opportunities in Washington D.C.

Having participated in The Washington Center Program, Amani shared the highlights of her internship at the U.S Senate interning under Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), which allowed her not only to gain valuable work experience, but also placed her in close proximity to the U.S Capitol, so that she could immerse herself in political history.

Moving into March, Saint Anselm students seized an extraordinary opportunity to actively engage with President Joe Biden's inaugural visit to New Hampshire for the 2024 campaign. Several ambassadors volunteered for a variety of duties, from event setup to managing parking logistics and guiding the press. Notably, two students took on the responsibility of driving in President Biden's motorcade, facilitating smooth transitions for media personnel from the airport tarmac to various local events.

Joe McQuaid speaking about his new book at the NHIOP
Joe McQuaid speaking about his latest book "War Fronts Home Fires: A WWII Correspondent’s Remarkable Coverage, His Wife’s Indomitable Spirit"

Later in March, the Institute hosted the second Bookmark Series with journalist Joe McQuaid. He captivated the audience with his latest book “War Fronts Home Fires: A WWII Correspondent’s Remarkable Coverage, His Wife’s Indomitable Spirit.”

McQuaid shared the incredible true story of his parents during World War II and detailed personal anecdotes about his family. As a war correspondent, B.J. McQuaid covered front lines, while his wife Peg held down the fort back home in New Hampshire. Separated for three years, Peg managed rationing and cared for their children, keeping the home fires burning bright.

On April 3, the Institute hosted “Women in the Public Square: Political and Civic Engagement,” marking 50 years of women’s education on the Hilltop. The venue was filled with alumni and students gathered to commemorate this significant milestone.
Distinguished guests included New Hampshire State Senator Donna Soucy ’89, New Hampshire State Senator Sharon Carson, and Courtney Tanner ’11, senior director of government relations at Dartmouth Health. The panelists, moderated by Politics Professor Christine Gustafson, Ph.D., shared insights from their political experiences.

Tanner offered a poignant reflection, stating, “I think the most important thing is that education is the key. It can open any door, and then the right people come into your life at the right time.”

New Hampshire State Senator Donna Soucy ’89, New Hampshire State Senator Sharon Carson, Courtney Tanner ’11, and Christine Gustafson
(from left to right) Courtney Tanner ’11, New Hampshire State Senator Sharon Carson, New Hampshire State Senator Donna Soucy ’89, Professor Christine Gustafson

Senator Carson continued, “I can’t emphasize how important an education is for a woman today. Don’t put limits on yourself. Keep yourself open to opportunities and don’t be afraid to take them when they come your way, because you’ll be surprised when you get older where you will end up — because you weren’t afraid.”

As the spring months continued, the Institute hosted Dr. Morgan Marietta on April 18, as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series, in collaboration with the Center for Ethics in Society and the College’s Honors Program.

Dr. Marietta explored the theme “Facts in Politics and the Problem of Hubris: The Psychology of Unwarranted Certainty and Polarized Perceptions in a Struggling Democracy.” He provided valuable insights into the prevalent issues of misinformation, disinformation, and polarized perceptions in our society.

Dr. Morgan Marietta speaking behind a podium at the NHIOP
Dr. Morgan Marietta spoke on the theme “Facts in Politics and the Problem of Hubris: The Psychology of Unwarranted Certainty and Polarized Perceptions in a Struggling Democracy"

Referencing his co-authored book, “One Nation, Two Realities,” Dr. Marrietta discussed the concerning divide in how different groups interpret reality. He emphasized the declining trust in expertise, attributing it to the rise of hubris. It was an engaging session that prompted the audience to contemplate the challenges facing our democracy.

The next major event was "Write-in Biden: A Discussion about the 2024 First in the Nation Primary," held on April 23. It was organized and hosted by the Kevin B. Harrington Student Ambassadors. Their special guest was Kathy Sullivan, former chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party and a member of the Democratic National Committee, discussed previous election results, especially concerning the New Hampshire Primary.

Sullivan described the “inefficacy and lack of energy” in the Biden campaign during the 2020 election, especially in New Hampshire; conflict over moving the first in the nation primary to South Carolina also created “a situation where Biden could lose.”

In conceptualizing a write-in campaign for the 2024 Primary election, Sullivan emphasized the importance of efforts being “grassroots oriented.” Because funding was not the same across all democratic campaigns, the write-in team utilized mail, social media, and other means of advertising.

In late April, the ambassadors held the second Pizza & Politics event on April 14. The speaker was Kathryn Williams ’24, a Communication major, who shared her journey at Saint Anselm College. Throughout her time on the Hilltop, she has contributed to “The Saint Anselm Crier,” served as a Kevin B. Harrington Student Ambassador, interned at WMUR-TV, and launched a podcast called "Belief and Ballots," which explores the connection between religion and politics in today's world.

Reflecting on the highlights of the semester, the Institute thanks our student ambassadors for the many hours of behind-the-scenes work, that makes our events possible. We are grateful to the college and the surrounding community for their support, which enables us to continue the Institute’s commitment to democracy and civic engagement. Stay tuned for programming updates for next fall!


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