On Oct. 3, 2007, the College of Charleston started a political communication lecture series called the Bully Pulpit Series, inviting presidential candidates to campus to speak to students and the public about their political vision and communication plans, should they be elected president of the United States.

Over the last 15 years, 32 politicians have participated in the series. The events have ranged from very small, intimate gatherings to huge events attracting thousands of people. Some of the more memorable candidates include then Senator John McCain, former President Barack Obama, President Joe Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report at the time, who delivered the “Rock Me Like a Herman Cain South Cain-olina Primary Rally” in the Cistern Yard.

In this episode of the podcast, Speaking of … College of Charleston, Gibbs Knotts, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Amanda Ruth-McSwain, associate professor of communication, look back on the Bully Pulpit Series and all of its speakers over the years.

Featured on This Episode:

Gibbs Knotts was appointed the dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences in October 2020. Before assuming the role of dean, Knotts served as the department chair of the College’s Department of Political Science from 2012 to 2019. In the area of political science, he teaches undergraduate courses in American politics and graduate courses in the Master of Public Administration program.

Knotts has published works on political participation, Southern politics, public administration and the scholarship of teaching and learning. His articles have appeared in a variety of outlets, and he has two co-authored books: The Resilience of Southern Identity: Why the South Still Matters in the Minds of Its People (University of North Carolina Press, 2017) and First in the South: Why South Carolina’s Presidential Primary Matters (University of South Carolina Press, 2019). He received the College of Charleston’s Distinguished Research Award in 2017.

Amanda Ruth-McSwain is an associate professor of communication with specializations in leadership communication and organizational public relations. Since her 2005 start at the College of Charleston, Ruth-McSwain has taught courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including Leadership Communication, Strategic Communication Campaigns, Public Relations Cases, Business Communication and Ethics in Leadership Communication.

Ruth-McSwain has served in a variety of leadership roles at the College. From 2011–21, she served as the director of the Bully Pulpit Series. She also served as the interim associate dean for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences from 2019–21, and as director of the master of arts in communication program from 2013–19.

Resources in This Episode:

Bully Pulpit Series
Stephen Colbert’s “Rock Me LIke a Herman Cain South Cain-olina Primary Rally”
Barack Obama, 2008