By TOM LoBIANCO
THE GOSHEN NEWS
U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar will continue wielding influence in Washington after he leaves office, albeit with a much younger audience.
Lugar is starting a Washington, D.C., internship program with the University of Indianapolis called the Richard G. Lugar Academy. He has also agreed to deliver a handful of lectures each year as a distinguished professor at the private university.
Lugar, 80, said Friday the academy will focus on many of the issues he’s addressed in his 36-year Senate career, including weapons proliferation and global food shortages. He smiled broadly as he talked about mentoring students over the last four decades and said the new program should help more students gain experience in the nation’s capital.
“It will not be mandatory that they have a semester there, or even a few weeks, but many will want to choose that. As a result we will try to introduce them to people in Washington D.C., as well as to problems that everyone there, as well the students, will try to solve,” he said.
He punctuated just how close students could get to international issues by recalling his own experience during the 2001 anthrax attacks on the Capitol, which put the area on even higher alert shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
“We were rushed out to the Dirksen (Senate office) building, our throats swabbed and told to take Cipro tablets for 48 hours or we might die. And that was not melodramatic, the post office people that handled this died,” he said. “This happened in our country, in my office.”
The question of Lugar’s post-Senate career has lingered since he was defeated in May after a grueling primary battle with the tea party-backed state treasurer Richard Mourdock. Lugar’s name arose as a possible choice to replace the departing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but aides quickly nixed that idea. He said Friday he was not contacted by the Obama administration about a Cabinet position.
Lugar has travelled the globe promoting non-proliferation since May and was most recently awarded the Defense Department’s highest civilian award for his work with former Georgia Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn.
Lugar said he is looking at potential work with Indiana University and Georgetown University to expand the public service program, and is also in talks with the German Marshall Fund.
Lugar’s announcement marked something of a homecoming for the elder statesman. University President Robert Manuel said in his remarks that it was former University of Indianapolis President Gene Sease who convinced then-Mayor Lugar to teach at the university while running for U.S. Senate in 1976.
“Professor Lugar taught political science that year, giving students a front-row seat to the electoral process,” Manuel said.
Lugar later joked that the job was perfect: he taught in the morning and campaigned in the afternoon and evening.