Press Release

R.E.M. Manager, Public Education Advocate to Speak Sept. 12 at Ohio Wesleyan

August 29, 2016 – by Cole Hatcher

Bertis Downs. (Photo by My Music Thing/Wikimedia Commons)

Bertis Downs to Present ‘New Adventures in Storytelling: Music, Business, Schools, Life’

DELAWARE, Ohio – Bertis Downs is known in music circles as the “fourth member” of the iconic rock band R.E.M., having served as the group’s lawyer and manager for years. Today, Downs also is known for his advocacy of public education.

Downs will discuss both passions, and more, when he presents “New Adventures in Storytelling: Music, Business, Schools, Life” at 7 p.m. Sept. 12 in Benes Rooms A and B of Ohio Wesleyan University’s Hamilton-Williams Campus Center, 40 Rowland Ave., Delaware. The event is free and open to the public.

A former adjunct professor of entertainment and music law at the University of Georgia, Downs has written articles for outlets including The Washington Post and Salon.

In February, he gave advice to the Democratic Party presidential hopefuls in a Salon article titled “This is how Bernie or Hillary wins: The speech that would seal the nomination.” In the essay, he advocates the development of community schools, stating:

“Together, we will carefully consider the various approaches of Community Schools — public schools that incorporate social service agencies, local businesses, and health and adult learning resources, to ensure that children and their families have the support they need. These programs have had promising results where implemented, but they have not been fully embraced or built out to their potential. That needs to change.”

In addition to his support for public education, Downs continues to serve as R.E.M.’s manager, though the band disbanded amicably in 2011. R.E.M. is best known for its chart-topping songs “The One I Love” and “Losing My Religion.” R.E.M. was inducted into the Cleveland-based Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in 2007.

Downs’ presentation is sponsored by Ohio Wesleyan’s Arneson Institute for Practical Politics and Public Affairs, directed by professor Sean Kay.

Kay’s forthcoming book, “Rockin’ the Free World!: How the Rock & Roll Revolution Changed America and the World,” includes insights from Downs. Kay’s book is scheduled for release this fall.

Learn more about Downs at www.bertisdowns.com, more about Kay at www.owu.edu/seankay, and more about the Arneson Institute at www.owu.edu/politics.


Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers nearly 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the latest President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.