Spring 2007 • Volume 13, Issue 2
Institute aims to prepare public servants
Dr. Larry Aspin, chair of the political science department, and his colleagues envisioned an idea about a decade ago: an on-campus program in which Bradley students are trained to be leaders in public service. Now some of the ideas from Aspin’s department are being used in creating the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service.
From left to right, Brad McMillan, Dr. Peter Johnsen and Dr. Larry Aspin
The Institute, a collaborative project between Bradley and The Dirksen Congressional Center, will offer public speakers and a public policy series while educating ethical, collaborative, and bipartisan leaders who possess an understanding of both current public policy issues and the importance of public service. The inaugural event will be April 26 with Congressman Robert H. Michel ’48 HON ‘81 speaking on campus. A member of Congress for 38 years, Michel was House Minority Leader from 1980 until 1995. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994.
Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Peter Johnsen said the Institute is a product of a series of conversations about how the University can partner with community organizations. Dirksen Congressional Center Director Frank Mackaman first approached Johnsen with the most recent idea. That led to conversations with Brad McMillan, who was District Chief of Staff for Congressman Ray LaHood ‘71 for nine years. “But, as with all great ideas, they converge from multiple sources,” says Johnsen, who asked Aspin for his thoughts. “He smiled at me and described a proposal that he and his department had written about very similar things. At that moment we knew we were on to something.”
McMillan began working on campus as executive director of the Institute in January. His primary objective in the early years of the Institute is to make it a self-sufficient project. In the meantime, he hopes to incorporate students into every aspect of the project from topic selection to execution of events.
“Among the things I enjoyed the most in my time with Congressman LaHood were the great Bradley interns we had in our office,” said McMillan. “I always was a big believer that giving students maximum opportunities to showcase their own leadership is important. The Institute will be driven by student leaders on campus.”
Additional student benefits Johnsen expects from the Institute are internship offers and activities, including trips to Washington, D.C. He recently attended a meeting with students who had visited the nation’s capital. “As a former Fed who spent a lot of time in Washington, it didn’t dawn on me how significant a trip to Washington for a student interested in leadership can be. They would be able to meet significant leaders, watch them in action and really become inspired to become public service leaders,” he said.
Partnerships between the University and The Dirksen Congressional Center began when the Class of 1970 proposed the Everett McKinley Dirksen Chair in American Government. Among the inaugural speakers were President Gerald R. Ford, Senators Charles Percy HON ‘63, Adlai Stevenson III, Birch Bayh, and Congressman John B. Anderson. The speaker series was reinstated in the 1980s when Congressman Michel, Senator Howard H. Baker HON ‘83, Congressman James C. Wright HON ’85, and political correspondent Sander Vanocur HON ’85 participated in the program. Pictured at right is a ticket to Ford’s speech, courtesy of Dorothy and Bill Gleason ‘49.