2006-10-07 / News

Mackinac Island Celebrates Statesmen Hart, Milliken

An endowed speaker series for integrity in politics at Central Michigan University, named in honor of Governor William Milliken and the late U.S. Senator Philip Hart, both of Mackinac Island, was celebrated at a reception at Windermere Hotel August 29. Among attendees were (seated) Jane Hart and Mayor Margaret Doud, and (standing, from left) Matthew Surrell, Michael Hart, Dennis Cawthorne, Gary Shapiro, dean of CMU's College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences, and CMU President Michael Rao. An endowed speaker series for integrity in politics at Central Michigan University, named in honor of Governor William Milliken and the late U.S. Senator Philip Hart, both of Mackinac Island, was celebrated at a reception at Windermere Hotel August 29. Among attendees were (seated) Jane Hart and Mayor Margaret Doud, and (standing, from left) Matthew Surrell, Michael Hart, Dennis Cawthorne, Gary Shapiro, dean of CMU's College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences, and CMU President Michael Rao. There was nothing but good things to say about two Mackinac Island statesmen during a reception at the Windermere Hotel Tuesday, August 29. William G. Milliken, the governor of Michigan from 1969 to 1982 who still owns a summer home in the Annex, and the late Philip A. Hart, U.S. Senator from 1958 to 1976 who claimed Mackinac Island as his official residency, were being celebrated with the commemoration of an endowment at Central Michigan University that will support an annual address in the area of political integrity.

Both men epitomize such an ideal, those in attendance agreed.

The Philip A. Hart and William G. Milliken Endowed Speaker Series for Integrity in Politics "honors two self-effacing, unassuming giants," noted Matthew Surrell, who serves on the new endowment committee.

Both men, he said, were members of the Greatest Generation, both wounded during

World War II, Senator Hart as an infantry officer in the Dday invasion on the beaches of Normandy, Governor Milliken while flying combat missions in a B-24. But the Greatest Generation is also about humility, and of principle, and Mr. Surrell recalled a quotation in Dave Demsey's new biography of the former governor, "William G. Milliken, Michigan's Passionate Moderate," in which Mr. Milliken recalls thinking during the war, "If I can only survive this, I will not ever complain about anything, never fear anything, or turn away from anything."

And he never has.

Michael Hart of Mackinac Island recalled, too, the lessons of his father, "that it is not only important to remember that civility matters in politics, but politics grows out of society, and civility in society is crucial to our survival."

Especially in this day of term limits and inexperienced politicians, noted endowment committee member Dennis Cawthorne, "civility and integrity in politics is in too short supply.

"It is so important to train and create a new generation of young people, particularly in this state, who can go about the business of politicking and governing in a civil manner," he said, "recognizing that the other side has valid points, recognizing that compromise is important, recognizing that principle is more important than anything else. And I believe that what Central is undertaking is a giant step in that direction."

The practice of tolerance in politics, of compromise, and of the resulting leadership are traits attributed to both Mr. Hart and Mr. Milliken, and Michael Hart elaborated on Mr. Cawthorne's comments.

"Value on the other side of an argument," he noted, "is key to arriving at the working solutions each of us needs to reach every day. Dad often said, and showed more often than said, that it is crucial for each of us to remember that in any given argument, at some point, the other fellow just might be right. It is humility that brings about the triumph we all need in democracy."

The endowed speaker series will bring a nationally-recognized speaker to CMU each year to address such issues at a public lecture and with students during a series of seminars. The endowment will be housed in the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences. The dean of that college, Dr. E. Gary Shapiro, said, "I can't think of two Michigan politicians who have had a greater impact upon civility, and if we can emulate their behavior, both personally as well as with our students, I think we will have done a wonderful job."

Messrs. Milliken and Hart, noted CMU President Michael Rao, followed a path in politics that made them strong leaders, not necessarily popular politicians. While they both were very popular among their constituents, he noted, "They didn't compromise their values and were perhaps respected more than they were loved."

In an age of partisan politics, the endowment, when raised, said President Rao, will have great impact on the future and will be a tribute to the civility in government engendered by Senator Hart and Governor Milliken. He said the university hopes the lessons learned will enable CMU students who enter politics a greater sense of how to succeed quickly with the values they need to serve the democratic process.

CMU is raising $1 million for the endowment, which, when matched with a university endowment matching program, will provide approximately $90,000 a year in earned income to support the speaker series.

Contributions can be made to CMU, College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences, CSB 105, Mount Pleasant, MI 48858-9970.

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