On the 50th anniversary of the Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard Kennedy School, the Harvard Gazette offered a retrospective on the IOP’s legacy of promoting public service, featuring recollections from esteemed alums including HWS President Mark D. Gearan, a 1978 Harvard graduate.
Gearan — who is a former director of the Peace Corps and served during the Clinton administration as Assistant to the President and Director of Communications, as well as Deputy Chief of Staff — recalled that the IOP’s “summer stipend [$500] proved a defining part of my career because it allowed me to go to Washington to intern for my congressman, Rev. Robert Drinan, the Jesuit priest, a Democrat from Massachusetts.
“It allowed me to see pathways into public policy for careers; it allowed me to exchange ideas with people who were very different from me,” he continued. “My senior college roommate was then the president of the Republican Club, [conservative radio talk show host] Hugh Hewitt. We were an unlikely rooming pair politically. But I think that has always been a hallmark of the institute – working in a nonpartisan way to encourage young people to think about careers in politics and public service. That was important in 1978 when I was there … [and] it could not be more important for what the institute’s doing for the next 50 years.”
Established in 1966 as a memorial to President John F. Kennedy, the IOP seeks to “create the future of politics and public service every day, inspiring undergraduates to lead lives of purpose by committing themselves to the practice of politics and governing, and to public service and the countless opportunities to serve at home and around the world.”
The IOP will celebrate its 50th anniversary April 1 and 2 on the Harvard campus. Read the full article, “Institute of Politics, 50 years in,” in the Harvard Gazette.