Visiting fellows Coleman and McAuliffe will also be joined by Ursula Plassnik, former Austrian foreign affairs minister and former President of the Council of the European Union. Coleman will be visiting the IOP for a week in November, while McAuliffe and Plassnik will visit in October.
"Each semester [brings] a different group of people, and each semester is influenced by the political realities of that time," said IOP Director Bill P. Purcell, noting that the IOP has welcomed over 500 political practitioners to Harvard since the fellowship program's inception in 1966. "This group is really ideally suited to our students in this particular year and time."
As resident fellows, Noonan and Cutter will stay for the entire semester and lead weekly study groups for students. The group of resident fellows also include Brett McGurk, special advisor to President Obama's National Security Council staff and former senior director for Iraq and Afghanistan under President George W. Bush; Kim Gandy, former president of the National Organization for Women; Rev. Leah Daughtry, former DNC chief of staff; and Gina Glantz, former national campaign manager for Bill Bradley.
Purcell said that many young people in America are becoming increasingly interested in public service and politics—a trend that he said represented a dramatic shift from even a decade ago—and added that he believes this semester's fellows will bring a wide array of experiences, insight, and political balance. Five of the six resident fellows are female, a balance Purcell applauded. "It's great that there are a large number of women who will be on campus this fall," he said.
Fellows are selected in a rigorous process that includes interviews with students and staff, Purcell said. He also said that despite the University's budget troubles, the IOP has not made any reductions in financial support for the fellowship program.
In telephone interviews with The Crimson, several of the fellows emphasized their desire to interact with students, learn from the Harvard community, and share their own professional experiences.
"I think this is a tremendous opportunity for me to both listen, and hopefully in a humble way, to share some experience and perhaps a little learned wisdom that I may have to offer," said Coleman, who emphasized his desire to better understand "how we can improve the political process," particularly through the use of modern communications technology and social networking tools. "How do you reach out to young people? My party has not done a good job of that."
Coleman, a Minnesotan Republican who recently lost his bid for Senate re-election to Democrat Al Franken '73 after a prolonged legal appeals process, said that he is also engaged in conversations about the "future of the Republican Party" and "strengthening a center-right vision for America." But he said that he would wait until September to make a more detailed announcement about his own political future.
McAuliffe, the renowned DNC fundraiser who also chaired Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign, similarly highlighted his desire to "meet with as many students as I can." He said that while he has spoken at the Kennedy School in the past, the week-long stay in the fall would hopefully provide him with an opportunity to have a more thorough and thoughtful discussion about "the mechanics of politics" than in the past.
McGurk, who clerked on the U.S. Supreme Court before becoming heavily involved in the NSC, said he would be leading a study group called "Highest Level (and Highest Stakes) Deliberations: an Insider Look at the U.S. Supreme Court and the National Security Council in Wartime." He said he looked forward to being able to "step back" from and reflect on his governmental work, and to discuss with students and faculty the ways that the NSC and Supreme Court have changed since 9/11.
Noonan, who highlighted her "enthusiasm and natural delight" in working with students, said she looked forward to leading a study group about creativity in journalism, politics, and life. Daughtry, the former DNC chief of staff, said that her study group would examine the relationship and dividing lines between faith, values, and politics.
"[The IOP fellowship] gives you a chance to focus and reflect on your own work in an environment that is not Washington and is outside the Beltway bubble of political-speak," Daughtry said. "You're in a place of learning where the entire purpose is to learn and grow and engage, and to have that kind of time at a place like Harvard is really stimulating and invigorating."
Purcell said that the IOP would be hosting an open house for students on Sept. 9, at which all the resident fellows would be present. He encouraged new and returning students to attend.
"[The IOP] is unique in its ability to bring leading practitioners of politics to campus, whether for a night or the whole semester," Purcell said. "Harvard students over the course of 40 years have understood [that] this is a unique opportunity and adds great value to their time here on this campus. My strong encouragement is that they should involve themselves as deeply as they can."
—Staff writer Peter F. Zhu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.