By Lori Bredemeyer, Managing Editor
Two former members of the House of Representatives will visit campus March 14 and 15 as part of the Congress to Campus Program. Harry Volkmer, D-Missouri, and Robert W. Daniel Jr., R-Virginia, will speak to several classes and student groups and to two Abilene Kiwanis Clubs during their stay.
The Congress to Campus Program coordinates with schools to send ex-Congress members to colleges and universities for two-and-a-half days to share their experiences and promote careers in public service. The university participated in the program once before when Rep. David R. Minge, D-Minnesota, and Rep. George Wortley, R-New York, visited in the spring of 2003.
Dr. David Dillman, professor of political science, said the students and faculty can all learn something from the men.
“We need to have some better understanding of Congress,” he said. “We don’t elect our judges at the federal level. We have an electoral college for president; we don’t directly elect the president. But we directly elect these guys, so this is our most democratic institution, and we get the chance to learn more about it.”
The U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress formed the Congress to Campus Program in 1976, and the Center for Democracy and Citizenship and the Stennis Center for Public Service are also partners in the program, according to the CCP Web site.
The site says members speak about their time in Congress, “bringing to life … the theory and the practice of democracy.”
“They present a living, bipartisan demonstration of what ought to typify our representative system … [and] they give students and faculty an authentic and candid ‘insiders’ look at the workings of American government and politics.”
Dillman said although the congressmen probably will be of most interest to political science majors and classes, their scope is not limited to that field, and they’ll also be speaking to journalism classes, Lynay and Jack Pope Fellows, among others.
Volkmer served on the House Agriculture Committee, the House Science and Technology Committee, the Space Subcommittee, and authored the Firearm Owners Protection Act, according to his biography.
After leaving Congress in 1976, he served as a leader for the National Commission on Small Farms and the National Rifle Association.
Daniel served on the House Armed Service Committee, the subcommittees on Investigations, Research and Development, Intelligence, and Nuclear Weapons and also instructed economics courses at the University of Richmond Business School, according to his resume. He left Congress in 1982 and has since owned and operated Brandon Plantation in Virginia.
“I think for political science-types, it’s just interesting to talk to former members,” Dillman said. “… But these guys have a wide variety of interests, and together, they cover a pretty wide span.
“It’s just a chance for students and faculty to spend a little bit of time with some people who are well-informed and to ask questions.”
Dillman said the congressmen will also meet with students individually to discuss careers in public service, and students can contact the Political Science Office for more information.