The answer might have surprised some observers, but not necessarily the University of Indianapolis community, which has counted the respected statesman as a friend since his tenure as the city’s mayor more than four decades ago. At a December press conference that filled the Esch Hall atrium and made international news, Lugar and UIndy President Robert Manuel announced the formation of the Richard G. Lugar Academy. The Nobel Peace Prize nominee is now a Distinguished Professor in UIndy’s Department of History, Political Science & International Relations, where he’s been instrumental in helping the University establish a high-level Washington, D.C., internship and study program for students from Indiana and across the nation.
“Senator Lugar is deepening his commitment to the University,” President Manuel said to the assembled crowd. “We are pleased to welcome him home again to UIndy.”
In January, the University opened a branch office in Washington with a full-time staff member to support the new internship program and related conferences, symposia, policy studies, and other Academy activities. Beginning this fall, students enrolling in the Washington Semester will divide their time between classes and seminars on national and global issues and professional experience in settings such as congressional offices, federal agencies, think tanks, embassies, international organizations, or government relations firms. They also will interact with Lugar and enjoy social activities, tours, and cultural outings organized by the Academy staff.
At the home campus in Indianapolis, the nonpartisan Lugar Academy will host prominent speakers and develop a program to prepare first-time elected officials for public office, drawing on the resources of UIndy’s Institute for Civic Leadership & Mayoral Archives. The Academy also will continue the popular Lugar Symposium for Tomorrow’s Leaders, an annual daylong program founded in 1977 that allows Indiana’s top high school juniors to explore national and international issues. Lugar, who has missed the event only once since it began, will continue as keynote speaker at the December event. Lugar returns to the UIndy faculty after a brief stint in the ’70s. He will visit campus regularly to deliver lectures and interact with students and faculty. His first visit came in February, when he spoke with students in an International Relations course on global politics and nuclear proliferation. He also will participate in events in Washington for internship participants and the public.
The Academy represents the evolution of UIndy’s Lugar Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders, established in 2007 to coordinate the senator’s annual symposium.
Having left the Senate as its most senior Republican and Indiana’s longest-serving member of Congress, Lugar expressed enthusiasm about continuing his career in public service and his commitment to inspiring future leaders. “I look forward to this experience very much, because I’ve witnessed, during these last 36 years of visits, the growth of this campus—it’s been dynamic,” Lugar said at the press conference. “This is a great place, and it has an exciting future, so I think you can understand my joy in being a part of that.”
First elected to the Senate in 1976, Lugar is best known for his work on agriculture, trade, energy security, and especially foreign relations, including his co-sponsorship of the 1991 Nunn-Lugar Act to eliminate stockpiles of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. A Rhodes Scholar and Navy veteran, he served two terms as mayor of Indianapolis, where he crafted a unified city-county government system credited with launching an era of economic and cultural growth in central Indiana.
“It’s difficult to imagine another individual with such a wealth of experience and such a willingness to share it with young people,” Dr. Manuel said. “With his help, we can provide an unparalleled opportunity for students pursuing careers in public service.”
UIndy’s Lugar connection
The University of Indianapolis and Senator Richard G. Lugar have enjoyed a long and rewarding relationship since 1970, when he accepted an invitation to join the UIndy Board of Trustees while serving as mayor of Indianapolis. In 1976, at the conclusion of his tenure as mayor, Lugar taught political science at UIndy while running for the U.S. Senate. Students had a front-row seat to history as they followed the campaign, watched election returns with their professor, and then welcomed the victorious candidate back in class the following day. For 36 years, the opportunity to connect with young people has continued during the annual Lugar Symposium for Tomorrow’s Leaders at UIndy, when the Senator delivers the keynote address and meets with high school juniors from all corners of the state. Lugar received an honorary degree from the University in 1970 and spoke at commencement in 1971. While rising to leadership positions in the Senate and becoming a statesman of international renown, the Senator remained on the UIndy Board of Trustees for 32 years, earning the designation of Distinguished Trustee upon his retirement from the board in 2002.
New academy has experienced staff
UIndy’s new Lugar Academy is led by Executive Director Lara Mann, who comes to the job with relevant experience in higher education and the law. Mann joined the Department of Admissions as senior assistant director in 2006 and later was named director of UIndy’s Richard G. Lugar Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders, precursor of the new academy. Now, she oversees the Lugar Academy’s offices in Indianapolis and Washington, D.C., and serves as chief liaison to the Department of History, Political Science & International Relations, which is developing the academy’s curriculum.
A graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law, Mann has a substantial background in higher education along with experience as case law editor for the LexisNexis database, management development specialist for the Ohio School Boards Association, and field investigator for the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. In conjunction with the academy role, Mann also was named special assistant to President Robert Manuel. As such, she will support and represent the president’s office in daily operations, review of legal concerns, board relations, University Planning Commission activities, and other initiatives. Directing the academy’s D.C. office and coordinating the Washington Semester internship program is Conor Burns, who previously served for several years as an aide to Senator Lugar.