In 1996, Humanities Nebraska collaborated with Governor Ben Nelson to establish the Governor’s Lecture in the Humanities, an annual event to demonstrate the importance of the humanities in public life. His successors, Governors Mike Johanns, Dave Heineman, and Pete Ricketts have continued to enthusiastically support this lecture series, which is free and open to the public. The lecture features a nationally renowned speaker and is preceded by a benefit dinner. Each year the event alternates between Lincoln and Omaha. When held in Lincoln, the Governor’s Lecture is affiliated with the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues lecture series at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. In addition to bringing a nationally recognized speaker to Nebraska and building a strong working relationship with Nebraska’s governor, the Governor’s Lecture in the Humanities increases public visibility for Humanities Nebraska and its programs and generates income for statewide humanities programs. Annually, Humanities Nebraska honors individuals, institutions, businesses and communities with the Sower Award in the Humanities for contributions to public understanding of the humanities in Nebraska, based on nominations and letters of support from the citizens of Nebraska. The Sower Award is an original bronze sculpture by Nebraska artist Sondra Dunn Mahoney.

2020 Lecturer: Doris Kearns Goodwin

Tuesday, September 22, 2020 • Lied Center for Performing Arts • Lincoln (and live online)

  • The benefit reception and dinner that usually precede the lecture have been canceled.

  • Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Goodwin will deliver her lecture live via video technology from Massachusetts. She will also be answering questions from the audience at the end of her lecture.

  • The free public lecture can be viewed at home or in person at the Lied Center for Performing Arts in Lincoln, where audience limitations, assigned seating, and masks will ensure safe social distancing. (Please note: in-person tickets from the Lied Center are now sold out.)

  • Pre-registration for the lecture is required to receive the livestream viewing link. To acquire access to the lecture livestream go to the Lied Center Tickets page or use the free Lied Center for Performing Arts app. On the website or app, select the second option, “Register for Livestream.” Scroll down a bit, and you will then select “1” from the “Free Promo” menu and “Add to Cart.” When you check out, you will be asked to create an online account with your contact information for the Lied Center so that they can email you the viewing link. You will receive a confirmation email from the Lied Center, and then in a reminder two days before the event. The link will be included in one of these emails.

  • Sponsors and supporters of the event will receive their tickets or login information directly from Humanities Nebraska.

  • The lecture will not be available for future viewing, only live at 7:30 p.m. CST on Sept. 22.

* The health and safety of all participants and audience members is of the highest importance. Humanities Nebraska and the E.N. Thompson Forum have been monitoring the local and state COVID-19 conditions on an ongoing basis. All local, state, and national directed health measures will be followed, and additional precautions taken as determined necessary by HN, ENTF, UNL, and the Lied Center. See also the Lied Center’s new health, safety, and ticketing policies here. Please continue to check in with the Humanities Nebraska and/or E.N. Thompson Forum websites for information updates.

< Click the button to become a sponsor via our online system. For additional information about various sponsorship levels and accompanying benefits, please send email to Heather Thomas, director of development. 

World-renowned presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin will deliver the 25th annual Governor’s Lecture in the Humanities on Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at the Lied Center for Performing Arts in Lincoln. The lecture will be presented by Humanities Nebraska (HN) and the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues and sponsored in part by the Duncan Family Trust and the University of Nebraska. HN board members Connie Duncan and Chris Zygielbaum are co-chairs of the event.

Goodwin’s career as a presidential historian and author was inspired when as a 24-year-old graduate student at Harvard she was selected to join the White House Fellows, one of America’s most prestigious programs for leadership and public service. Goodwin worked with President Johnson in the White House and later assisted him in the writing of his memoirs.

She then wrote Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, which became a national bestseller and achieved critical acclaim. Her next book, No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II, was honored with a Pulitzer Prize. She also authored multiple other books, such as The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, Lincoln Prize winner Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, and Leadership in Turbulent Times, each garnering critical acclaim and multiple awards.

Goodwin is seen frequently on major television stations, cable networks and shows including “Meet the Press” and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” She has served as a consultant for various documentaries, including “Baseball” by Ken Burns and several about American presidents. She was awarded the Charles Frankel Prize, given by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Sarah Josepha Hale Medal, the New England Book Award, as well as the Carl Sandburg Literary Award.

The Sower Award in the Humanities will be presented to Dr. Natalie Hahn immediately preceding the lecture. The benefit dinner that typically precedes the free public lecture has been canceled due to the pandemic, but this event still raises important funds for HN’s statewide programs. For information regarding sponsorships, please contact Heather Thomas at Humanities Nebraska.

The E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues is a collaboration of the Cooper Foundation, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the Lied Center for Performing Arts. Humanities Nebraska is a non-profit organization that inspires and enriches personal and public life by delivering opportunities to engage thoughtfully with history and culture. Visit to learn more.

This lecture will not be recorded for future broadcast.

Guidelines for attending the lecture at the Lied Center:

  • People will be required to wear masks at the Lied.
  • The social distancing requirements are 6 feet between families/households for seating.
  • Entrances in and exits out will be one way.
  • No food or drinks will be available and no intermissions.

Thank you to our 2020 co-sponsors:

ENT Logo
Union Pacific Logo
University of Nebraska Logo

Thank you to our Grand Benefactors!

First National Bank Logo
Carol Gendler Logo
Hellmans Logo
Milligans Logo
Rhonda Seacrest Logo