John DiStaso's Granite Status: UNH Law's Rudman Center to host national conference on 'fiscal responsibility'
Featured will be a "Who's Who" of national political figures, active and retired, who worked with Rudman during his days on Capitol Hill and who have been playing key roles in supporting the law school's new Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Policy, which is slated to begin offering courses, training, fellowships and scholarships to law students in the fall.
Rudman and law school dean John T. Broderick, a former New Hampshire Supreme Court Chief Justice, began laying the groundwork for the center more than a year before the Nov. 19, 2012 death of Rudman, the venerable former U.S. senator and former New Hampshire Attorney General.
Broderick said he told Rudman last year, "'Thirty years from now, people may see your name on the federal courthouse in Concord and ask who Warren Rudman was.'
"But as I told Warren, 'Kids coming out of here with your name attached to their own as Rudman Fellows, you will have inspired them and they'll learn about what you cared about. They'll be living, breathing and ongoing, and your legacy will matter in a very different way than it does etched into the edifice of the federal courthouse on Pleasant Street,'" Broderick said.
Broderick said Rudman's widow, Margaret, told him about three months ago, "'I want you to know how much this meant to Warren in the last year of his life.'"
"And those words meant the world to me," Broderick said.
Rudman himself wrote before he died, "It's truly an honor to have an academic center named after me, especially since I can think of no greater mission than to train our next generation of leaders to seek justice, serve their country, and work together for the common good."
Prof. Erin Corcoran, current director of UNH Law's Social Justice Institute and future Rudman Center director, said that although the center will be part of the law school, it will provide new courses and opportunities for "leadership training.
"One of the things that I think will distinguish this from other law schools is that we will have an emphasis on what you need to be an effective leader, particularly in the context of public service," Corcoran said.
"You see that type of training in some masters degree programs, but it's not really something you see in law schools right now," she said.
Corcoran said the center will also provide financial scholarships to students identified as having a commitment to public service and government work.
"We will be providing them with some tuition relief and look to place them in opportunities that will be funded during their summers through fellowships," she said.
Corcoran said a small, select group of students will be designated as Rudman Fellows, who will be given tuition aid, summer scholarships and year-long, post-graduate fellowships in organizations that "reflect the values and issues that Senator Rudman cared deeply about.
"There are variety of issues and not just a single issue he cared about," Corcoran said.
"The idea is to allow them to get a job start in a place that might not be hiring initially, but once they get there and fill out their skill sets, there would be more of an incentive for those organizations to offer them a job," she explained.
Broderick said that at the same time, the Rudman Center will hold occasional conferences and frequent lectures as "a place for serious policy discussions. It will be open to the public. It will not be a closed circle here."
The center's launch will be marked by a by-invitation-only kickoff dinner on Sunday, April 21, at the Grappone Center in Concord, featuring opening remarks by Gov. Maggie Hassan, who will be followed by Sen. John McCain, former Sens. Bob Kerrey and Phil Gramm, former New Hampshire Gov. Stephen Merrill and current New Hampshire U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte.
The master of ceremonies for the dinner will be Ari Shapiro, White House correspondent for National Public Radio.
The center's inaugural conference follows on Monday, April 22, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the law school.
Co-hosted by the Concord Coalition and New Hampshire Public Radio and sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, it is entitled, "The Federal Budget and the Law: Finding a Way Forward."
Keynote speakers will be former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker, who will open the conference with a historical look at the federal debt and deficit, and former Sen. Olympia Snowe.
Scheduled guest speakers on two panels are McCain, Ayotte, Gramm and Kerrey, former Sen. Pete Domenici, former White House Office of Budget and Management Director Alice Rivlin, Concord Coalition co-founder and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Pete Peterson, Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert L. Bixby and former Senate Budget Committee staff director William Hoagland, senior vice president of the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Shapiro will moderate the conference.
Topics will include a review of recent budget developments, the debt ceiling and future tax and spending policies.
Speakers are also expected to focus on longer-term budget challenges and political ramifications of efforts to reach bipartisan reform.
The event is open to the public, although tickets, at $50, are limited. According to the center, those interested in attending the conference may contact Marin Mathien at (603) 513-5267 or at email@example.com.
Going forward, Broderick said, Rudman Center events "will be a place for people to come and get more than a political stump speech," especially during future first-in-the-nation presidential primary campaigns.
"I hope going forward, the Rudman Center is on every (candidate's) dance card," Broderick said.
Broderick said former Nebraska Sen. Kerrey suggested the idea of honoring Rudman by creating an institute that combined the law, social justice, leadership and public policy when they met in New York in August 2011, along with attorney and long-time Rudman friend Brad Cook and Prof. Corcoran.
With the help of several well-known Granite State and Washington politicians, Broderick said, a collection of high-profile figures joined as national co-chairs, including Kerrey, McCain and Sen. Patrick Leahy as well as former Sens. Ernest Hollings and Gramm, who co-authored the landmark Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit-reduction legislation with Rudman in the 1980s, Sam Nunn, William Cohen, Snowe and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and his wife, Kathy.
A $10 million fund-raising campaign was launched, with the aid, Broderick said, of former U.S. Rep. Bill Zeliff and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole.
(For earlier Granite Status reports, click on "Granite Status" above.)