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Drake plays key role in commemorating Khrushchev's Iowa visit

August 20, 2009
News Photo
Nikita Khrushchev, far right, and Roswell Garst with their wives at the Garst farm.

A delegation of approximately 40 Russian political and business leaders will visit Drake University this week as part of the
statewide commemoration of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev's 1959
visit to Iowa.

As part of a tour of the United States, Khrushchev traveled to Iowa to see Roswell Garst, who had
invited him to tour his Coon Rapids farm. Garst wanted to share with the
Soviets the advances that Americans had made in mechanized grain
production, especially hybrid corn.

As part of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Khurshchev's visit, Drake will host a dinner and a public lecture on Thursday, Aug. 27.
Scholar and author William Taubman,
who won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for his biography of Khrushchev, will
be the featured speaker at a free lecture at 7 p.m. Aug. 27 in Sheslow
Auditorium in Old Main.

His lecture, which is part of the AViD Series sponsored by the Des Moines Public Library, bears the same title as his book -- "Khrushchev: The Man and His Era."

Drawing on the nearly two decades of research he did for his book, Taubman will discuss the ways
Khrushchev's character helps to explain his personal triumphs and
tragedies as well as his country's. Taubman will pay special attention
to Khrushchev's tumultuous tour of the United States in September 1959, during the course of which he visited Des Moines and Coon Rapids.

Sergei Khrushchev,
son of Nikita Khrushchev, also will speak at the lecture, sharing his
recollections of his family's visit to Iowa during the icy depths of
the Cold War. Drake President David Maxwell will then moderate a
question-and-answer session with the two speakers. A book signing and
reception will follow.

President Maxwell holds a bachelor's degree in Russian area
studies from Grinnell College and master's and doctorate degrees in
Slavic languages and literatures from Brown University.

He was a Fulbright Fellow in Moscow from 1970-71. He first toured
the Soviet Union in 1962 as a band boy for the Benny Goodman Band,
which included his father, legendary jazz musician and lead trumpet
Jimmy Maxwell. During the tour, David Maxwell had the opportunity to meet
Nikita Khrushchev briefly at the U.S. Embassy's 4th of July party.

"The band was invited to play at the party and Premier Khrushchev
stopped by to shake hands with everyone and congratulate us on the
anniversary of our revolution," Maxwell recalled. Learn more about this encounter by reading about Matt Kelley's interview with President Maxwell on the Radio Iowa Web site.

The lecture will be preceded by a dinner for Sergei Khrushchev and
the Russian delegation visiting Iowa
to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Khrushchev's visit. The dinner
will include a traditional Russian welcome toast presented by President
Maxwell.

Also attending the dinner, hosted by President and Madeleine Maxwell, will be:

  • Numerous members of the family of Roswell Garst
  • Drake faculty, staff and students, including eight students from Russia
  • Sponsors of the "Khrushchev in Iowa" 50th Anniversary events

Learn more about Khrushchev's visit to Iowa and the full schedule of 50th anniversary events at http://www.creatinggreatplaces.org/Khrushchev.aspx.

Co-sponsors of the events include Drake's Center for Global Citizenship, the Iowa Council for International Understanding, the Des Moines Public Library and the White Rock Conservancy.