Former Sen. Pryor Named As IOP Director

Extensive search conducted by three panels

The Institute of Politics (IOP) confirmed yesterday that former Senator David H. Pryor (D-Ark) will become its director Aug. 1, replacing Alan K. Simpson, who will leave the post in June.

The final decision to select Pryor, made by Kennedy School of Government Dean Joseph S. Nye, Jr., was announced to the IOP staff by Senior Advisor Committee Chair John C. Culver yesterday morning.

"There's nothing that compares with the Institute of Politics," Pryor said in an interview from his Little Rock office last night. "It is the most unique place of its kind in the world."


Pryor, 66, served six years in the U.S. House of Representatives, served four years as governor of Arkansas and 18 years as a senator.

He said he hopes to inspire Harvard students to "dedicate their lives to making the idea of democracy...stronger."

"Public service is still a noble profession," Pryor said.

IOP officials and future Harvard colleagues of Pryor said they were impressed by the sense of honor Pryor attaches to public service.

"He has extensive experience both at the local and national level and he has demonstrated a commitment to the IOP's mission," Nye said in a press release. "He will contribute immeasurably to the university as a whole."

Senator Edward M. Kennedy '54-'56 (D-Mass.), who serves on the Senior Advisory Committee, said he has "enormous respect" for Pryor.

"He was an outstanding Senator for Arkansas, and he's an outstanding choice to succeed Al Simpson," Kennedy said in the release. "The Institute of Politics has a special place in the hearts of all of us in the Kennedy family, and I look forward to working closely with David Pryor in the years ahead."

After months of interviewing candidates, three separate committees--the Senior Advisory Committee, a student-led committee and one composed in part of faculty and administrators--submitted their recommendations to Nye, who chose Pryor.

Pryor said that he first heard rumblings that he would be offered the position on Saturday.

Trevor D. Dryer '00, a member of the student search committee, said that he is excited about bringing Pryor on board.

"The student committee is in complete support of Senator Pryor," Dryer said. "He'll be a fantastic director."

Dryer added that over 100 candidates of various backgrounds--including many Democrats and Republicans--were considered for the position.

Other students on the selection committee included Hannah Choi '01, Richard Cooper '01 , C.J. Mahoney '00 and Jacqueline A. Newmyer '01, who is also a Crimson editor.

Tom H. Elke '00, who was a study group liaison for Pryor's "Everything You Wanted To Know About Politics But Were Afraid To Ask" at the IOP last spring, said he can think of "no better model" for aspiring public servants.

"He was one of the most honorable and noble human beings I have ever met," Elke said. "He served as a testament to what a public servant should be."

Pryor, who has funded an University of Arkansas history program with leftover campaign money following his Senate retirement in 1997, said he will serve as the IOP's director for at least two years and probably more.

He has already become familiar with several Harvard students.

He said he was surprised when he saw Cooper on ABC's "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire" Sunday night.

"My God, there's Rich on there!" Pryor said he shouted at the screen.

Of all the Russian generals, Chinese field marshals, kings and queens he has met, Pryor joked, "Rich is the only one who totally intimidates me."

Pryor also has journalism experience. At age 23, he said, he founded a weekly newspaper in Arkansas and published it for four years.

"I have a little newspaper blood in me," Pryor said.

Harvard students, meanwhile, said they were sad to see Simpson, the jovial former senator from Wyoming, leave for his home out West.

Simpson assumed his post in January 1998 following 18 years in the U.S. Senate.

"He's left big shoes to be filled," Newmyer said.

Pryor agreed, joking that his own shoe size is nowhere near Simpson's 17-inch boot size.

Though he assumes his post Aug 1., Pryor has other duties to attend to.

Yesterday, after picking up pizza for his students at the University of Arkansas, he was preparing to teach a two-hour class about politics in his office.

But a reporter interrupted him.

"Y'all make yourselves at home," Pryor told students as they arrived. "I'm on the phone, I'll be right off."

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