Former Obama White House Photographer Pete Souza Gives the John Jay Iselin Memorial Lecture

Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 7 - 8:30pm

Add to Calendar

Souza event

Bestselling author and former presidential photographer Pete Souza will share rarely-seen photographs and tell stories from his new book, The West Wing and Beyond: What I Saw Inside the Presidency as part of the 2022 John Jay Iselin Memorial Lecture. Following his presentation, Souza will take questions from the audience. The Strand will sell signed books at the event.

Pete Souza has spent more time in the Oval Office than almost any person in history. During the Obama administration alone, Souza was inside the presidential bubble for more than 25,000 hours and made nearly 2 million photographs. Brimming with his gorgeous images paired with fascinating storytelling, The West Wing and Beyond offers a one-of-a-kind look into the personalities and fascinating details that comprise the modern presidency. The result is an unprecedented view of how our democracy really works and is an essential book for every citizen who believes in American democracy.

Any guests to campus are required to show proof of a vaccine to enter a Cooper Union Building and the Residence Hall.

Pete Souza was the Chief Official White House Photographer for the entire tenure of the presidency of Barack Obama. He is the author of several books, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers Obama: An Intimate Portrait and Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents. A photojournalist since the late 1970s, Souza was also an official White House photographer during the Reagan administration, a freelance photographer for Life and National Geographic, and the Washington-based national photographer for the Chicago Tribune. A documentary about his work in the White House, The Way I See It, was nominated for an Emmy, and its premiere was the highest-rated non-news, non-live program in MSNBC history. He is a professor emeritus at Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication. In 2021, Souza was inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame.

The John Jay Iselin Memorial Lecture honors 10th President of The Cooper Union, who served from 1987 to 2000. As General Manager and then President of Channel 13, Jay Iselin was largely responsible for making Public Television a vital force in broadcast journalism, originating such programs as “Nature” and “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.” Past Iselin lecturers have included author and former federal prosecutor Preet Bharara, political activist and law professor Zephyr Teachout, and Pulitzer Prize winner Ed Yong.


Located in The Great Hall, in the Foundation Building, 7 East 7th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.