The University of Washington’s health-sciences center is named for the late Sen. Warren G. Magnuson. The name of the late Henry M. Jackson, Maggie’s longtime U.S. Senate seatmate, adorns the UW’s school of international studies.
Now the name of another political heavyweight - this one still living - is becoming part of a state academic institution.
The Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service at Washington State University is being formally dedicated Tuesday and Wednesday.
Scheduled events include a visit by the former Democratic House speaker, now 67, who spends most of his time in the other Washington, just as he did before being swept out of office in the 1994 GOP election landslide. It will be his first visit to the campus since the institute’s two-person staff began setting up shop last fall.
The institute, part of WSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, has thousands of documents, photographs, videos, books, furniture and other personal possessions donated by Foley and his wife, Heather.
But interim director Steven D. Stehr hopes to make the institute much more than a collection of political relics, and he has Foley’s blessing.
“I briefed him (by telephone) on the sorts of directions we were going and asked him if he had advice or suggestions, and he said, ‘No, sounds good to me,”’ said Stehr, an assistant political science professor.
Goals include funding scholarships and internships for promising undergraduate and graduate students, and creating a lecture series to bring nationally known speakers to campus.
In addition, Stehr hopes to set up endowed professorships in four policy areas - agriculture, environmentnatural resources, media and ethics, and government studies-public service.
“I think it’s going to be a real focal point of activities for the campus and the community and the state,” he said.
In keeping with Foley’s wishes, the institute’s agenda will be educational rather than political.
“The mission is distinctly nonpartisan and crossdisciplinary,” Stehr said.
The institute’s future hinges on a steady flow of private donations. It has already won backing from corporate foundations and individual donors, including some of Foley’s Eastern Washington political allies during his 30-year House career, Stehr said. Two major new gifts will be announced Tuesday.
A public reception to honor Foley also is planned Tuesday, along with a roundtable discussion, titled “The Past and Future of Politics in America.” Scheduled participants include four former members of the state’s congressional delegation: Mike Kreidler, Sid Morrison, Al Swift and Jolene Unsoeld. James Thurber, a political scholar and author, will moderate.
Foley’s 1994 loss to Republican George Nethercutt was the first election defeat of a sitting House speaker since the Civil War.
While he maintains a Spokane office with a threemember staff, following the precedent set by previous departing House speakers, Foley has kept busy practicing international law, speaking on current affairs and serving on corporate boards. He also recently won appointment to the president’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
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