The University of Texas-Pan American will host the exhibit "Surrendering the White House: Documenting Watergate," Feb. 2-April 28, in the Visitors Center on the campus. The exhibit focuses on coverage of the Watergate hearings by famed White House photographer Stanley Tretick and Washington Post reporters at the time Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, whose reporting of the Watergate scandal won the Pulitzer Prize.
Working with the ArtVision Exhibitions, an exhibition and marketing company based in Florida, UTPA curated the exhibit using Tretick's archives and the Watergate Papers of Woodward and Bernstein, housed in The Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin. Woodward and Bernstein authored "All the President's Men," a best-selling book later made into a film, which chronicled their challenges in covering the scandal that led to a U.S. constitutional crisis and the eventual resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974.
"The Watergate experience was a victory for this country - our constitutional form of government survived. That is the message that I would like for students to understand - not that Mr. Nixon was a bad person but that we have a constitution that is a wonderfully crafted document. If there is a free press and they do their work with integrity, if we have a Congress that does its work with integrity and a Judiciary that does its work with integrity, abuses of power that might occur will not go unfettered," she said.
Tretick, who was trained as a photographer by the Marine Corps and served in the Pacific during World War II, worked for United Press (later United Press International) in the 1950s. He provided battlefield coverage of the Korean War as well as covered Capitol Hill and presidential campaigns. He left UPI to cover John F. Kennedy and the Kennedy family for Look magazine in 1960 and remained at Look until it folded in the 1970s. Tretick's coverage of the Kennedy family, including the famed photograph of John Kennedy Jr. as a toddler peering out from a door in front of his father's presidential desk published just a short time before Kennedy's assassination, was among his most well-known photographs.
Before his death in 1999, Tretick became a founding photographer for People magazine and also did still photography for more than 30 movies. Photos taken by Tretick for the books "A Portrait of All the President's Men," (the story behind the film) and "They Could Not Trust the King: Nixon, Watergate and the American People" are part of the exhibition.
UTPA will be the first venue for this newly created exhibit. After its stay at the UTPA, "Surrendering the White House: Documenting Watergate," will be available for travel as part of the ArtVision Exhibitions collection.
The exhibition's opening coincides with an appearance Feb. 13 of Woodward as the second featured speaker on campus as part of the 2005-2006 Distinguished Speakers Series. Woodward, who is an assistant managing editor at the Washington Post and went on to write nine No. 1 best-selling non-fiction books, will speak on reporting in politics and government ethics. The free event, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Auditorium, will open its doors to UTPA students, faculty and staff at 7 p.m. and the general public beginning at 7:20 p.m.
The Watergate exhibit will also be open to the public free of charge. The Visitors Center hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. For tours, call 956/292-7338.