Congress to Campus
Hughes Center Hosts Congress to Campus
This article originally appeared in The Stockton Times on October 16, 2014.
The Stockton community welcomed two retired congressmen this week as part of the Congress
to Campus program hosted by the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy.
During the campus visit on Oct. 13 and 14, Robert Clement, a Democrat who represented
Tennessee’s 5th district from 1988-2003, and Louis Frey, a Republican who served Florida’s
9th district from 1973-1979, and Florida’s 5th district from 1969- 1973, met with
students, faculty and staff. The two former congressmen were accompanied by Ambassador
William J. Hughes.
Congress to Campus, a program of the United States Association of Former Members of
Congress (FMC) of Washington, D.C., connects former representatives and senators with
college students. The program is designed to increase civic engagement and encourage
students to pursue careers in public service.
“The Hughes Center applied to host the program so that we could provide another opportunity
to enhance their academic studies with practitioners of public policy and politics.
We hope that students become more engaged in civic life,” said Daniel J. Douglas,
director of the Hughes Center.
John Froonjian, senior research associate for the Hughes Center, said the former congressmen
spoke on a range of topics: grid-lock in Washington, D.C., their interactions with
presidents, and the need for young people to vote.
“This program provided Stockton students with a rare opportunity to learn about our
political system up close,” he said.
Frey and Clement visited a class taught by Dr. Michael Rodriguez, associate professor
of Political Science, and discussed factors contributing to gridlock in Washington,
D.C. They advocated campaign finance reform and students getting involved.
The two former congressmen held a discussion on civic education with Dr. Claudine
Keenan, dean of Education, Patty Weeks, director of the Southern Regional Institute
& Educational Technology Training Center (SRI&ETTC), and local educators. Dr. Keenan
said Clement and Frey complemented Ambassador Hughes’ passion for civics education.
“Their ideas for advancing civics education among Stockton’s K-12 partners have led
to planning for a conference enhanced by some excellent curricular resources,” she
Clement, who served in the National Guard and reserves, and Frey, who served in the
U.S. Navy and reserves, were able to share their military experience with student
veterans during one of the sessions.
“It was wonderful to have these two outstanding [former] congressmen, who served this
country, meet with our Stockton student veterans,” said Tom O’Donnell, assistant dean
of Students/Veteran’s Affairs.
“They provided a very important discussion on ways we can enhance the combat to classroom
They also met with members of the Student Senate. Students in the Advanced Constitutional
Litigation class taught by Linda Wharton, associate professor of Political Science,
and members of the Political Engagement Project were also able to meet with Clement
and Frey during an informal reception.
“This was a rare and valuable opportunity for my students to gain insights into the
reality of life as a candidate and a member of Congress,” Wharton said. “Former Members
Frey and Clement shared their real life experiences with students and offered constructive
ideas about how to move beyond the current partisan gridlock in Washington.”
Both former congressmen started their careers in public service at a young age. Clement
was 29 when he ran for political office as a Public Service Commissioner, becoming
the youngest Tennessean ever elected to a statewide position. Frey was elected a congressman
at the age of 35.
“Even though politics has a negative connotation today, I challenged the students
not to shy away from politics,” Clement said. “What we need today is political courage
in order to move this country forward. There’s nothing that we can’t accomplish.”
Clement said he was highly impressed with Stockton and the Hughes Center and the Polling
Institute. Frey agreed.
“I think it’s a homerun,” said Frey about the Hughes Center and the Polling Institute.