Chief Judge Lavenski Smith Presents Barnett Civic Leadership Lecture at John Brown University

Photograph of Chief Judge Lavenski Smith
Chief Judge Lavenski Smith

John Brown University will host Chief Judge Lavenski Smith as the 2020 speaker for the Barnett Civic Leadership Series. Smith, who is the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, will present a lecture titled “Without Respect of Persons” on Tuesday, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m. in Simmons Great Hall at JBU.

“In his almost two decades of service on the Eighth Circuit, Judge Smith has demonstrated a firm commitment to the rule of law and a healthy respect for the constitutional separation of powers. But more than that, he is a man of deep faith with a long history of support for John Brown University,” Dr. Daniel Bennett, JBU associate professor of political science and assistant director of Center for Faith and Flourishing, said. “We are grateful to be able to host him for this event.”

Smith was nominated to the federal bench by President George W. Bush and began serving in 2002. He became Chief Judge in 2017. Before joining the federal bench, Smith practiced law in both private practice and public service. He was also a JBU professor and later on the board of trustees.

The event is free and open to the public.

The Ray and Laurine Barnett Civic Leadership Series, established in 2016, is funded by an endowment created with gifts from the Barnett family and donations from more than 20 organizations and individuals. The series, which brings a speaker to JBU each academic year, focuses on Christian leadership and addresses the intersection of faith and public service. Past speakers include Alveda C. King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the director of Civil Rights for the Unborn, the African American Outreach for Priests for Life and the African American Outreach for Gospel of Life Ministries; Shapri LoMaglio, vice president for government relations and executive programs at the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities; former Gov. Mike Huckabee and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

“We at the Center for Faith and Flourishing are thrilled to partner with the Barnett Civic Leadership Series to bring Judge Smith to JBU,” said Dr. James Bruce, JBU associate professor of philosophy and director of Center for Faith and Flourishing. “This year’s lecture continues the great tradition of Barnett lectures, which give JBU students, faculty and staff the opportunity to think and reflect on Christianity, politics and the roles we have to play in our life together.”

John Brown University is a leading private Christian university, training students to honor God and serve others since 1919. As Arkansas’ top-ranked university (Wall Street Journal, 2020), JBU enrolls more than 2,100 students from 36 states and 59 countries in its traditional undergraduate, graduate, online and concurrent education programs. JBU offers more than 40 majors, with top programs including engineering, nursing, family and human services, biology, graphic design and construction management.