Recently I had the opportunity to give back to my alma mater, Washington College. Under the auspices of the Washington College Institute for the Study of Religion, Politics and Culture, I was invited to participate in a political roundtable, with Colby King, Pulitzer winning writer for the Washington Post and Dr. Joseph Prud’homme, Director of the Institute.
Although I was a political science major at Washington College, I knew little about the Institute, which was started in 2009, prior to a chance discussion with Dr. Prud’homme, while attending the inauguration of Dr. Mitchell Reiss as President of the college. The Institute, I believe, has great promise as a new and noteworthy addition to the array of excellent programs that are being developed at the college. The emphasis on religion, politics and culture affords a board area of subjects which can be examined and discussed in both historical and contemporary terms.
Certainly the mission and programs of the Institute would have been of keen interest to the college’s founding patron, George Washington. While revered as a military leader, Washington was no stranger to the many facets of politics, the wide range of the role of religion in the new nation and the many cultural pursuits in which he engaged, including dancing, writing and gambling. Many issues still reflect the diversity of the issues being debated in the United Sates today. The role of religion and government are reflected in the rise of the political right and the tea party movement: the debates continue over lotteries, slot machines and various forms of horse racing in many state legislatures, and local government bodies.
The opportunity to interact with Washington College students and share observations gleaned from 0ver 30 years in the area of government relations was both a pleasure and a comfort. Comforting to know that one’s alma mater is still producing students with inquisitive minds, significant interest in how our nation is being governed and the interest to, perhaps, one day become part of the vast opportunities that are available in both government service and the private sector aspects of government relations essential to keeping the legislative and federal agency branches of government informed.
Engaging in programs such as the political roundtable provide a wonderful and stimulating opportunity for alumni to give back to Washington College through sharing of time, talent and knowledge which are beneficial for both students and Washington College graduates.
-Fletcher R. Hall ’63