Return to the Ivory Tower

Former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer '63 returns to Harvard after 25 years. He says this is a welcome vacation from the rough and tumble world of politics.

Students taking Science B-16 "History of the Earth and Life" or Science B-46 "Molecular Biology and the Structure of Life" may have noticed an unfamiliar face showing up in class every so often, that of former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer '63.

Roemer, governor from 1988 to 1992, has returned to Harvard for a brief rest from national politics as an Institute of Politics (IOP) fellow.

He says the vacation is a welcome change from the rough and tumble of Politics. Between cajoling his son, Charles E. Roemer '92, to do his laundry and attending as many hockey games as possible, he says he is enjoying the life of an undergraduate for the second time.

"It's a good time to rest up," he says about his decision to spend this semester at Harvard. "I love being a student."

Roemer says that while Harvard has remained the same in some areas, the presence of women on campus is a huge change since his undergraduate years.


"The main difference is the presence of women on campus and their involvement in every facet of campus life," he says.

Roemer recently lost his bid for reelection to Edwin Edwards.

Compared to many undergraduates, his academic schedule is relatively light. He says he is auditing the two science Core classes and makes an occasional visit to Associate Professor of Government H.W. Perry's Civil Liberties course.

In addition, he is leading an IOP study group examining the role of a governor. The Wednesday meeting, called "Governors and the Politics of Governing," attempts to give students a practical look at the role of a state's top executive, Roemer says.

"I teach people about the importance of staff," he says. "A reliable and loyal staff is one of the most important and overlooked decisions a governor has to make. I tell them, 'you're elected governor, what are you going to do now?"

According to IOP administrators, the class and Roemer are popular among students. Over 100 Harvard students and local politicians are currently enrolled in the study group.

"He is a great guy," says Cheri Goldstein '93, the IOP student liaison. "People are very fond of him. He is very responsive to questions."

Roemer always has his office door open, welcoming his students, says IOP President Tray Grayson.

The activity he enjoys the most next to watching hockey is talking to students, Roemer says. His contact with undergraduates is proving educational, he says.

"I'm learning from students about what is important; their concerns about politics, the environment, etc.," Roemer says.