"The State of Our Nation: Hardball vs. Civility" will be the focus of the William S. Cohen Lecture at the University of Maine in Orono on Thursday, November 7, at 3 p.m., featuring former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson, co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Simpson will be joined by former Secretary of Defense William Cohen in the discussion, moderated by alumnus Mark Woodward, former Bangor Daily News executive editor.

The talk in the Collins Center for the Arts is free and open to the public. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis by calling the Collins Center for the Arts box office, 581-1755 or 1-800-MCA-TIXX. Box office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Simpson was a U.S. senator from 1979 to 1997. From 1985 to 1995, he was assistant Republican leader.

In 2006, Simpson was named to the 10-member Iraq Study Group, a Congressionally appointed panel co-chaired by Lee Hamilton and James Baker, charged with assessing the Iraq War and offering policy recommendations.

In 2010, President Barack Obama appointed Simpson and Erskine Bowles to co-chair the 18-member National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, commonly referred to as the Deficit Commission or Debt Panel.

UMaine's William S. Cohen Lecture Series began in 1998. Cohen, the Bangor native who represented Maine in Congress for 24 years before joining President Clinton's cabinet, established the series.