Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel slated for One Book talk

Patrick Svitek, Online Managing Editor

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will highlight this year’s One Book One Northwestern theme in an on-campus address next week, the University announced Monday.

Emanuel, a Northwestern alumnus who served as chief of staff for President Barack Obama for almost two years, is expected to speak at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 28 in Technological Institute’s Ryan Auditorium. He will discuss the 2012 presidential election and Chicago’s unique position in the country’s political landscape.

Emanuel was invited to speak by University President Morton Schapiro, whose office sponsors the school-wide reading initiative, according to a news release. One Book project coordinator Nancy Cunniff told The Daily that the two have been searching for an open slot in the mayor’s schedule for “several months.”

In the release, SESP Prof. Dan Lewis, director of NU’s Center for Civic Engagement, said Emanuel brings a “knowledgeable perspective” on all things Chicago.

“Having Mayor Emanuel come to speak at Northwestern is an extraordinary opportunity for our students, faculty and community to engage in this year’s program with one of the most prominent, passionate and authoritative advocates for Chicago today,” Lewis said.

This school year’s One Book project explores NU’s ties with its big-city neighbor, drawing on Medill lecturer Alex Kotlowitz’s 2004 book “Never a City So Real.” The critically acclaimed work examines Chicago as a “kind of refuge for outsiders” and profiles some of its most distinct personalities.

Cunniff said Emanuel’s talk will touch on the same vision of the city presented by Kotlowitz.

“We wanted to bring him to campus because the books we’re doing this year … are all about the city of Chicago, the neighborhoods and the people in Chicago,” Cunniff said. “We just thought it would be a very great connection to the book.”

Emanuel is likely to touch on Obama’s recent re-election, which the mayor witnessed in person earlier this month at McCormick Place.

The electoral triumph came after Emanuel stumped for his former boss in swing states Florida and Ohio and lent his political celebrity to fundraising events for a pro-Obama super PAC.

At the president’s Election Night bash, Emanuel told reporters that he hopes Obama returns the favor in his second term and funnels federal funding for infrastructure improvements to the Windy City, according to the Chicago Tribune.

— Patrick Svitek