Chestertown, MD — Their experiences span the administrations of every President from John F. Kennedy through George W. Bush. They have drafted amendments to the Constitution, battled over Supreme Court nominations, expanded civil rights, debated wars, brokered peace. Collectively, they have served nearly 100 years in the United States Senate.
And this semester, these five renowned legislators—among the Senate's most distinguished former and current members—will be at Washington College to share their reflections on politics, history, and the art of leadership with students, faculty, and the general public.
Senators from both sides of the aisle, including Gary Hart (D-Colo., 1975-87), Paul Laxalt (R-Nev., 1974-87), Dale Bumpers (D-Ark., 1975-99), and Richard Lugar (R-Ind., 1977-present) will participate in the 2007 Senatorial Colloquy on American History and Politics, led by former Senator Birch Bayh (D-Ind., 1963-81) and hosted by Washington College's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience. In a series of four public conversations, on October 17, October 22, November 5, and November 12, Senator Bayh and his guests will discuss the history and traditions of the Senate, as well as their own experiences in office. The Senatorial Colloquy will offer exceptional insights into what it is like to belong to what has been called "the most exclusive club in the world."
Amid the historic setting of 18th-century Chestertown, the Senatorial Colloquy also offers some of America's leading lawmakers a chance to reflect on enduring challenges that confront the nation. The goal of the series is to rise above the ins and outs of current politics and consider how the Senate can, in these contentious times, live up to the ideals of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison—who, in The Federalist Papers, envisioned the Senate as embodying nothing less than "a sense of national character."
Senator Bayh, who will participate with one visiting senator in each of the public conversations, is a senior fellow of the C.V. Starr Center at Washington College. Throughout a career spanning more than half a century, Senator Bayh won renown as a tireless and effective champion of civil rights and education, and as a highly respected authority on the U.S. Constitution. The only person since the 18th century to write more than one successful amendment to the Constitution, he has been called "a latter-day Founding Father," as well as a master of the art of congressional leadership, often across party lines. Along with the 25th Amendment (establishing the rules for Presidential disability and Presidential and Vice-Presidential succession) and the 26th Amendment (lowering the voting age to 18), Senator Bayh drafted Title IX of the Higher Education Act (prohibiting gender discrimination on campus) and helped draft the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The 2007 Senatorial Colloquy also includes a series of student seminars at which 16 Washington College undergraduates have opportunities to study American politics and history in a small-group setting with Senator Bayh, and to continue the discussion with each visiting senator over a private dinner after each of the Colloquy's public sessions.
"Senator Bayh is not only a legendary figure in American public life, he is also an extraordinary teacher and mentor," said Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the C.V. Starr Center. "Our students are fortunate indeed to learn about politics and history firsthand from someone who has literally made history. And the four guests whom he has invited to join him this semester are among the most thoughtful, eloquent, and farsighted members of the Senate in recent decades."
Senator Gary Hart (Wednesday, October 17—READERS, PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS THE CORRECT DATE, NOT OCTOBER 15) represented Colorado in the Senate from 1975 to 1987. A leading intellectual figure in American political life, he is widely recognized as among the first to forecast the end of the Cold War, and he co-chaired the U.S. Commission on National Security for the 21st Century, which warned of terrorist attacks on America before 9/11. Senator Hart was a candidate for the Democratic Party's nomination for President in 1984 and 1988. Currently Wirth Chair Professor at the University of Colorado, he has authored more than a dozen books.
Senator Paul Laxalt (Monday, October 22), who represented Nevada between 1974 and 1987, was often referred to as "The First Friend" due to his closeness to President Ronald Reagan. He was national chairman of Reagan's three presidential campaigns (in 1976, 1980, and 1984). At President Reagan's behest, he traveled to the Philippines in 1986 to urge then-President Ferdinand Marcos to undertake political and military reforms, and eventually convinced the Philippine leader to step down peacefully, helping to avert a bloody civil war.
Senator Dale Bumpers (Monday, November 5) represented Arkansas from 1975 until 1999, and has been acclaimed as one of the Senate's most eloquent orators in recent times. Less than three weeks after he retired from the Senate, he was called back to deliver the closing argument in defense of his friend President Bill Clinton, in only the second presidential impeachment trial in the history of the country. "Mr. Bumpers summoned forth the dignity of an earlier form of public discussion, the kind prized by the Founding Fathers," wrote one commentator in the New York Times.
Senator Richard Lugar (Monday, November 12) is the longest serving U.S. Senator in Indiana history, having been first elected in 1976. One of the Senate's most respected voices on foreign policy, he has recently played a pivotal role in that body's ongoing debate on the Iraq War. Senator Lugar is the Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee, which he has also chaired, along with the Agriculture Committee. He was a candidate for the Republican nomination for President in 1996.
All the public conversations begin at 5:00 p.m. in Hynson Lounge, Hodson Hall at Washington College. Admission to the Colloquy sessions is free and open to the public; admission will be on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information on attending, please call the C.V. Starr Center at 410-810-7161. For more background on the Senatorial Colloquy and the five participating Senators, please visit the Center's website at http://starrcenter.washcoll.edu.
The four public conversations will be moderated by Steven Clemons of the New America Foundation, who is a member of the C.V. Starr Center's Advisory Board and author of the popular political blog "The Washington Note." A keen observer of politics inside the Beltway, Clemons also writes frequently on foreign policy, defense, and economic policy.
Founded in 1782 under the personal patronage of George Washington, Washington College has hosted numerous national leaders throughout its long history—beginning with the institution's namesake himself, who attended the 1784 Commencement. Later visitors included Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and George H.W. Bush. The College's alumni have included several members of the U.S. Senate. The 2007 Senatorial Colloquy is part of Washington College's celebration of its 225th anniversary year, and it draws inspiration from the institution's founders, who believed that the future of American democracy depended on education, civil discourse, and an informed understanding of history.
October 9, 2007