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Edwin Rogers is happy to be hitting the books.
Rogers, one of this semester's six new Institute of Politics (IOP) Fellows, is auditing Foreign Cultures 14, "Society and Politics in India."
But, as a former Capitol Hill lobbyist for India, it is only natural that she would be fascinated by the subject matter.
The IOP Fellows Program, founded in 1967, helps to bring experienced politicians, policy makers, journalists and philanthropists to the Kennedy School of Government for one semester.
While at Harvard, the fellows teach study groups at the IOP, take classes, meet with students and undertake "independent study and reflection," according to Theresa Donovan, the program's director.
"I think it [the IOP Fellowship Program] is just the greatest," Rogers says. "It brings in practitioners with real world experience and has them available to talk to students any time."
But, while the fellows are permitted to audit as many courses as they wish, their primary responsibility is to lead IOP study groups, Donovan says.
And, she adds, the guidelines for the program ensure that the fellows offer liberal office hours, and maintain an "open door policy."
"Our primary audience is one of undergraduate students," Donovan says.
This semester's fellows are Rogers; Carl Anthony, director of the Urban Habitat Program; former Senator Wyche Fowler, Jr. (D-Geo.); Leslie Goodman, who has served as deputy chief of communications under California Gov. Pete Wilson; Bruce Herschensohn, the GOP nominee for a 1992 California Senate race and Lynn R. Williams, former president of United Steelworkers of America.
Kathryn Whitmire, mayor of Houston from 1982-92, is serving her second term as an IOP fellow.
From Alexander to Simon
This semester's seven fellows are participants in an institution dating back to the IOP's foundation in 1966.
Former Harvard President Nathan M. Pusey '28 articulated the mission of the proposed program at a 1964 press conference at the Kennedy Library, according to a newsletter published by the IOP.
"What we have in mind is the establishing of a new kind of institution in American life within a university setting, which will furnish a meeting place for scholars and for individuals pursuing careers in practical politics and public service," Pusey said.
The first group of IOP Fellows included ten individuals, nominated in 1967. Since then, 300 people have served as IOP Fellows, representing a spectrum as diverse as American politics.
Geraldine Ferraro, Betty Friedan, David R. Gergen, Al Gore '69, Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. and Paul Simon have all been IOP Fellows.
The Selection Process
Currently, the IOP chooses six individuals as fellows each semester. According to Donovan, IOP leaders nominate candidates for the program with the aid of input from students and faculty.
The criteria used to select the fellows include political experience, past leadership roles and an interest in interacting with students and faculty, Donovan says.
She adds that the program particularly seems to attract individuals who are at a point in their careers where they may benefit from a sabbatical away from their activities.
"The idea of the program is to capture 'in and outers'--people who have served government, and then are taking a break, who will go back into government," Donovan says. "We want to have people who have had experience in government, and that is when you get them, when there are transitions in government."
Whitmire came to the Institute as a fellow for the 1995 fall semester, after serving as mayor of Houston for ten years.
According to Donovan, the fellowship is more often a transition than an endpoint in the political careers of the participants. She notes that many past fellows have returned to successful political careers.
Ronald H. Brown and Richard Riley both served as IOP Fellows, before accepting positions in the Clinton Cabinet. Lamar Alexander, a Republican presidential candidate this year, was a fellow at the Institute in 1971.
While most fellows serve for one semester, a few have stayed on to take teaching positions at Harvard.
Whitmire, a fall fellow, will spend the spring semester at the Kennedy School. She is teaching a class entitled, "Women in Politics: Policy, Advocacy and Leadership."
"I didn't want to leave after just one semester," she says.
Back to School
Each IOP Fellow will lead a study group on topics ranging from political reform in the Republican Congress, to the interaction of science and public policy. The study groups are open to undergraduates and members of the Cambridge community.
In addition to teaching the study groups, the fellows have made a variety of plans for their semester at Harvard.
Both Williams and his wife hope to take courses in their areas of interest at the College.
"I just went through the course catalog and ticked off everything we were interested in," Williams says. "I have written down two pages of classes I want to take."
They will both be auditing Moral Reasoning 52, "Property Rights: Morals and Law," Williams says.
Williams adds that he hopes to "revive" his love of jazz music and theater during his time in Harvard. "I'm just exhausted listening to all the opportunities available here," he says.
Fowler says that he would like to explore his interests in Biblical archaeology and English literature, and would enjoy talking with students about those topics.
It is the interaction with students that the fellows cite as their primary motivation in participating in the fellowship program.
"I jumped at the opportunity to be able to spend a semester in discussion with students, and an opportunity to do some independent reading, study and reflection on my own," Fowler says. "It's an opportunity that very few people have."
Many of the fellows express their hope that they would be able to aid students through sharing their political experiences.
Whitmire says she believes she has much to offer in leadership advice, and is eager to share her experiences as the mayor of a major American city.
"You have to believe in a cause or you can't be a good leader for that cause," she says.
Whitmire adds that she hopes to share her experiences in broadcast journalism with students, saying that she believes "that the media has a very important role in the development of public policy, and that role is education."
"I want to try to explore this issue [with students] while I am here," she says.
Herschensohn says that he would be interested in discussing issues pertaining to the flat tax rate with students. Having traveled to over 90 countries, he says he is also eager to share his experiences in foreign affairs.
He adds that he has worked for the Nixon administration, and could share his knowledge on the Nixon years as well.
"I could also talk about running for office," Herschensohn says, referring to his campaign for the Senate from his home state of California.
Fowler, who served in the House of Representatives from 1976-86 and in the U.S. Senate from 1986-92, and has held elected office for 26 years, says that he would like to share his interests in public service and government with students.
Fowler notes that he is still playing an active role in U.S. government. He currently serves on the President's Commission on the Roles and Responsibilities of the Intelligence Community, which is "re-evaluating the mission and responsibilities of the intelligence in the US," he says.
"I hope that I can help the mission of the Kennedy School and the IOP, which is to inspire a love of public service into students at the earliest possibility; I know that I will learn much from the fellows and students here," Fowler adds.
Many of the fellows say they hope to encourage students to become actively involved in the political process.
"I would have loved to have had a program like this [in college], because politics touches everybody, and even if you have no interest in running for public office, there are so many other ways to get involved and to control the outcome in certain situations," Rogers says.
It is an opportunity "that they [students] may never get again in life, to just walk in the doorway and talk to someone whose an expert," Herschensohn says.
In fact, encouraging undergraduate students to benefit from and make use of the fellows program is one of the primary goals of the IOP, according to Donovan.
Learning from Each Other
The IOP Fellows this semester say that they especially look forward to the chance they will have to spend time as members of the Harvard community.
"It's a marvelous opportunity, I think, for the students, and also for the fellows themselves," says Herschensohn.
Herschensohn also adds that he feels a semester spent with students could help to broaden a politician's view of the world.
"Sometimes you lose perspective," he says. "You get so lost in the things that you are doing on a day to day basis that you don't see them in context with other generations, and the bigger picture."
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