Year-long invitation to celebrate Center's 25th anniversary

(Jan. 4, 2016) McConnell Center Director Gary Gregg invites students, teachers and the public to join Center's 25th anniversary programs and events.
Year-long invitation to celebrate Center's 25th anniversary

This year, 2016, is a consequential election year in U.S. politics. It is also marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville. These two milestones offer us an important chance to discuss and reflect on ideas related to leadership, politics and our responsibilities to our communities and to future generations. The McConnell Center is dedicated to helping that discussion take place in 2016, and we urge you to join us.

In 1991, noting that Kentucky’s best and brightest students were leaving the Commonwealth to pursue undergraduate degrees, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell raised money for student scholarships at his alma mater. Dr. Paul Weber and the University of Louisville’s Political Science Department took up the challenge of creating a program to nurture those students receiving scholarship aid. UofL President Don Swain provided the imprimatur to make it all happen. These men and women stepped beyond their already busy lives to support a vision to find, attract and nurture the next generation of great leaders for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the nation. That little program – created out of the visions of Sen. McConnell and Dr. Paul Weber and hammered out in small faculty and administrative meetings in Louisville and Washington, D.C. –  has grown to become the envy of universities across the land and has touched the lives and careers of thousands of students, teachers, researchers and citizens.

In our first 25 years, we have given more than $3.5 million in scholarship awards to more than 230 great Kentucky students. We have nurtured students on their paths to become doctors, lawyers, engineers, business leaders and teachers. We have brought leaders of global consequence to Louisville, including U.S. Vice President Biden, Sec. of State Clinton, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Robert and former or current presidential and vice presidential candidates.  We have hosted some of today’s great scholars and writers. Our studies have garnered national attention, and our educational programs have reached tens of thousands of Kentucky students directly or by educating their teachers and impacting their curricula.

In 2013, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni named the McConnell Center one of 50 “Oases of Excellence in Higher Education.” More than a decade prior, UofL named our institution a “Center of Excellence” on campus.

As we tell our story of 25 years of excellence, we also hope you will join us for a year-long discussion of what it means to be a citizen and what it means to be a statesmen in America today. During 2016, we are hosting a series of lectures, seminars, publications and conferences related to this theme, and we hope you contribute to and participate in each. We have planned programs for Kentucky’s engaged high school students, college students, teachers and citizens. We will serve U.S. Army soldiers as they explore their responsibilities as citizens and statesmen and consider the oath they took to defend the U.S. Constitution.  Lastly, we invite you to consider the role female political leaders have played in our state’s history during a leadership conference in May.

We are eager for you to join us in 2016 to witness first-hand our legacy of “Leadership, Scholarship and Service.” In these consequential times, we invite you to join us in our conversation of what it means to be citizens and statesmen in the 21stcentury.

Gary L. Gregg, PhD

Mitch McConnell Chair in Leadership, University of Louisville

Director, McConnell Center