Millikin students get insider’s look at U.S. House of Representatives
Millikin University welcomed former U.S. Representatives, the Honorable Daniel B. Maffei (D-NY) and the Honorable Peter G. Torkildsen (R-MA), to campus for the Thomas W. Ewing Lecture on Oct. 26.
As part of the Congress to Campus program, Maffei and Torkildsen visited several political science courses and spoke with Millikin students throughout the day. The Congress to Campus program sends a bipartisan pair of former U.S. Representatives to college campuses for two-day visits during which they address classes and meet informally with students. The aim of Congress to Campus is to engage students and provide inspiration that will lead to greater democratic participation.
"We visited with many classes and heard a lot of enthusiastic responses," said Torkildsen. "We both were interested in hearing any questions and were trying to let them know that they need to be active if we want to change the status quo."
"I think young people are the future generation of leaders and we really do need them," said Maffei. "Young people who tend to be more pragmatic tend to think they do want to get things done, and that's really our hope."
Daniel B. Maffei is currently a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress and an independent consultant.
Maffei's leadership and experience in politics and government spans 20 years. He served as a member of the United States House of Representatives during the 111th and 113th Congresses. For 10 years, he was a senior communications strategist and spokesperson in the U.S. House, U.S. Senate, and political campaigns. His extensive media experience also includes several years of television reporting and producing for network affiliates in Upstate New York. His private sector background includes work as a senior policy advisor for Manatt, Phelps, Phillips, LLP and experience as an executive in an investment advisory firm.
Peter Torkildsen is an adjunct professor of practice in political science at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a business development and government relations consultant. His career experience includes elective office, appointed office, and the private sector.
Torkildsen was elected to two terms in the United States Congress, representing the Sixth District of Massachusetts, and three terms as a state representative for the 13th Essex District.
In the U.S. Congress, Torkildsen served on the House Armed Services Committee, the Natural Resources Committee, and chaired the Small Business sub-committee overseeing the Small Business Administration. In Massachusetts, Torkildsen was also appointed to senior level positions in the administrations of Governors Mitt Romney, Jane Swift, Paul Cellucci and Bill Weld. Torkildsen has also served as chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party.
Dr. Dan Monroe, chair of Millikin's Department of History and Political Science, noted, "Our goal is to expose our students at Millikin to former Congressmen because they have had recent experience with the political system. We want them to have real Performance Learning opportunities to experience exactly what running for office and holding an office is like."
The Thomas W. Ewing Lectureship was created by Millikin University and Congressman Ewing's colleagues in recognition of his many years of public service. Ewing, a 1957 Millikin graduate, retired in 2001 after serving nine years in the U.S. House of Representatives from the 15th District of Illinois. Ewing served 17 years in the Illinois House of Representatives, where he was assistant Republican leader from 1982-1990 and was named deputy minority leader in 1990.
Previous speakers have included Robert F. Kennedy Jr., environmental advocate; Peter Hoekstra, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; and former Congressmen Jack Buechner (R-Mo.) and William Robert Roy (D-Kansas). The lectures focus on public policy and service, and visiting lecturers are selected based on their prominence in those fields as well as their ability to inspire others to serve.