CHESTERTOWN – They have more than 90 years of combined experience in the Senate, and they’re bringing it to Washington College.
Five former U.S. senators will come here during the next month to share their experiences and reflect on their time in office with students, faculty and the public.
The 2007 Senatorial Colloquy on American History and Politics has four sessions, featuring former Sens. Birch Bayh, D-Ind.; Gary Hart, D-Colo.; Paul Laxalt, R-Nev.; and Dale Bumpers, D-Ark.; and current Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind.
The colloquy kicks off today with Bayh and Hart. Bayh will participate in each of the four sessions, which are being held by Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience.
Laxalt will attend Oct. 22, Bumpers on Nov. 5 and Lugar on Nov. 12.
“These are truly some of the great, towering figures of the Senate in our own times, from both sides of the aisle,” said Adam Goodheart, director of the Starr Center. “These are people who … have really made history in the Senate.”
Bayh, who served in the Senate from 1963-81, is a senior fellow at the Starr Center.
“I enjoy anything that tries to inform people about the importance of making the system work better,” Bayh said. “Talking to people who have worked in it can give folks who haven’t a better idea about some things that need to be improved.
“I think the students and townspeople will find it educational and entertaining.”
Bayh wrote two amendments to the Constitution during his Senate tenure: the 25th, which established presidential succession and defined a contingency plan in case of presidential disability, and the 26th, which lowered the voting age to 18.
Bayh was also involved in drafting Title IX of the Higher Education Act — prohibiting gender discrimination in colleges — and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, outlawing segregation in U.S. schools and other public places.
“We thought it would be great to give students of this college an opportunity to sit down with someone who has made American history himself,” Goodheart said about Bayh. “He has a roster of achievement that is unrivaled by most legislators in modern times.”
The other senators also have lengthy resumes and a wealth of experience to share.
Hart was a two-term senator who ran for president in the 1984 and 1988 elections. In 1984, he won the New Hampshire primary before losing the Democratic nomination to Walter Mondale.
He was a frontrunner for the nomination in the 1988 campaign before news of an extramarital affair broke in 1987, sinking his chances.
Laxalt served two terms in the Senate and was governor of Nevada for four years. He was the national chairman of Ronald Reagan’s three presidential campaigns — 1976, 1980 and 1984.
Bumpers was governor of Arkansas and a four-term senator, and he defended President Clinton during impeachment proceedings.
Lugar has served in the Senate since 1977, the eighth-longest tenure among current senators. He is the only senator from Indiana to be elected to six terms.