Press Room

Historian at Sandhills Community College for Ethics Lecture


The third lecture of the “Ideas in Ethics” series, will be held Thursday, February 23 at 7 p.m. in the Clement Dining Room in the Sandhills Community College Dempsey Student Center. The lecture is free and open to the public.

“Presidential Logic from Armenian to Rwandan Genocide” is sponsored by the Continuing Education Lifelong Learning Institute in partnership with St. Joseph of the Pines.

Historian Bill Maher will focus on separate episodes of decision-making by former presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Bill Clinton and the ethical consequences of their inaction.

Beginning during Roosevelt’s presentation to the 1915 Committee on Armenian Atrocities, the lecture will initially focus on a request for Roosevelt’s participation in a campaign to address early concerns about events that spawned Armenian genocide.

Maher will then make a historical stop in Hitler’s Germany before turning to the Clinton administration’s reaction to the Rwandan crisis in the 1990s.

“The administration was more concerned about the fate of the gorilla population than about the people in Rwanda,” Maher contends.

Maher, who spent decades as a professor of humanities at Montgomery Community College, said Roosevelt and Clinton have both been a fascination to him and the basis for an argument that suggests ethics and U.S. foreign policy are often at odds.

“Bill is widely recognized as a person who has a keen eye for history and a taste for very good stories, based on his academic career and subsequent work at The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines,” SCC President John Dempsey said. “I expect that his followers from the bookshop will want to see him in action at the lecture. I know I do.”

The lecture series is designed to promote a more ethical approach to community engagement. Maher will host a question-and-answer session following the lecture.

“I am looking forward to Bill’s take on the ethical consequences of the inaction by these former presidents,” said Lori Portfleet, president for St. Joseph of the Pines. “Leaders have to make tough decisions, and history often proves many of them to be questionable. It should be an intriguing evening.”

The Continuing Education Lifelong Learning Institute, formerly Creative Living, provides non-academic, personal enrichment courses designed to expand creativity, sharpen skills, and enhance overall intellectual wellness. Visit for a complete list of courses. For additional information, contact Rose George at (910)695-3775 or

St. Joseph of the Pines is an aging services network offering a full continuum of retirement housing, health care and community-based services for older adults as well as community outreach to those in need. It is a Trinity Health Senior Community continuing the legacy of the Sisters of Providence.

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