In what may be his final address to an Indiana University audience as a U.S. Senator, Richard Lugar underscored the global impact of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA).
“SPEA makes such a difference,” the Indiana Republican said. “The potential for our country and our world lies in your hands.”
Lugar was speaking to several hundred IU and SPEA alumni as well as current students at SPEA’s annual Capitol Hill Colloquium held on Oct. 16th in the ornate Kennedy Caucus Room at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.
Lugar is perhaps best known as a leader in reducing the threat of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. The Nunn-Lugar program has been credited with deactivating more than 7,500 nuclear warheads that were once aimed at the U.S.
“I have no idea what the crisis of the century will be 10 years from now but I hope that your background at SPEA will give you the imagination, the courage and the political skills to persuade people in a course of action that will make a difference in our country and the world,” Lugar said.
Among the participants in the Colloquium were students in SPEA’s highly regarded Washington Leadership Program. The undergraduates devote an entire semester to living and working in Washington, interning for public and nonprofit organizations, conducting research, preparing briefings and honing professional skills. Lugar had a message for them. “Make sure you understand the importance of debate, of using words well and persuasively,” he said. “Some people have the techniques but they don’t have much to say. Get the academics first and then develop your language abilities.”
Lugar is a longtime friend of SPEA. He was introduced by SPEA’s founding dean, Charles F. Bonser. The two have shared a podium before. Lugar delivered the inaugural Charles F. Bonser lecture in Public Policy at IU in February, 1999. Lugar had also been a previous keynote speaker at the Capitol Hill Colloquium.
Before the remarks by Bonser and Lugar, SPEA Executive Associate Dean David Reingold offered a brief “State of SPEA” address. Reingold noted that as SPEA celebrates its 40th anniversary, its national ranking, enrollment and faculty scholarship have reached new heights. “SPEA has so much to celebrate this year,” said Jenna Civitello (MPA/MSES ’10), SPEA Assistant Director of Alumni Relations and Development. “We appreciate that so many of our alumni, donors and students participated in the Colloquium. We’re especially grateful to Senator Lugar for sharing his time and his thoughts about our school and its significance.”