President Emeritus Welcomes Governor to Kick Off Civic Engagement Lecture Series
Asa Hutchinson to Speak in Chapel
March 28, 2016
Over the last 15 years, I have had the opportunity to teach at least one class of Political Science each year at JBU. Having spent 8 years in the Arkansas Senate from 1995-2002, I enjoyed not only leading study in the classic literature of the field, but also discussing, in context, some of the great issues of our day. A major part of the grade was always a theme paper on a topic chosen by the student.
My observation was that political debate and civic engagement by students was cyclical, rising to a peak in a Presidential election year and then waning into a general apathy for three intervening years. The Political Science major also suffered from a lack of identity and career focus. About three years ago, I met with a group of faculty, students, and alumni of the Political Science department to discuss what we might do to bring more energy and student interest to the major. The priority set at that time was to find money for an annual speaker and related activities sponsored by the Political Science Department.
Through the support of a challenge grant from the Windgate Foundation, we were able to raise in excess of $120,000 to establish the new "Ray and Laurine Barnett Civic Leadership Fund." It will be my privilege to both thank that family and to introduce our inaugural speaker, Governor Asa Hutchinson, at the JBU chapel service on Thursday, April 7. As time moves on, we hope to bring other outstanding speakers to campus, sponsor debates and forums, and even send students to national political events of educational benefit to college students.
JBU has a distinguished history of inviting a broad range of speakers to the campus. In 1979, when I became JBU's third president at age 30, a young then Governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton, accepted our invitation to be the keynote speaker at my "Investiture" ceremony that Fall. Former Governor, and later U. S. Senator, Dale Bumpers also came to campus on several occasions and received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from JBU. During my time in the Arkansas State Senate, we also hosted several visits by Governor Mike Huckabee--and likewise recognized his service to the people of the State of Arkansas with an honorary degree. His wife, Janet, completed her baccalaureate degree from JBU's Advance program in Little Rock and served briefly on the JBU Board of Trustees.
It will be an honor and privilege for JBU to host Governor Hutchinson in chapel. I have known him well for many years. He is a man of great Christian integrity and humanity. Last Fall, I attended the Governor's Summit in Little Rock which focused for two days on the non-profit and church response to critical needs in the child foster care system and prisoner re-entry programs. It was well attended and a first step in trying to mobilize support outside of available government resources. He is a thoughtful and skilled leader who has served his state and nation in many capacities, including as a Federal Prosecutor for the Western District of Arkansas, as our Third District Congressman, as Administrator of the U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and as the first Undersecretary for Border & Transportation Security at the U. S. Department of Homeland Security.
I look forward to working with others on campus, students and faculty, to bring speakers of this caliber to JBU more regularly in the future. JBU graduates are making their presence known in many professional and ministry fields. I believe we can do so in a much greater way in the arena of civic engagement and public service.
John E. Brown, III
JBU President 1979-1993