Leadership: A student view


Congressman Aaron Schock ’02 applauds at the dedication of the Bob Michel VA Outpatient Clinic in Peoria in April. Visit bradley.edu/hilltopics/go/michel to view a tribute video about Michel.

History major KATIE CHILDS ’12 recently sat down with three of Bradley’s most well-known leaders in Washington, D.C.

Former Minority Leader Bob Michel ‘48 HON ‘81

Former minority leader BOB MICHEL ’48 HON ’81 was an influential figure in the U.S. House of Representatives for more than four decades, and he had a direct impact on the success of the Reagan administration. 

As a student, Michel was not even thinking about politics as a career path until Bradley president DAVID OWEN ’29 suggested that Michel get involved in politics. 

Michel has the distinction of being the longest-serving minority leader in the House. He became minority leader in 1980, and served in that position until he retired from public service in 1994. Michel credits his successes in Congress to his outlook on bipartisanship. “You have to have a desire to get to know people, even with their opposing views, at least to talk to them, and to get to be friends with them. Having a good relationship with the other side of the aisle was my strength.”

Those friendships and relationships became even more important during the Reagan administration, when Democrats had a strong majority in the House of Representatives. On bills such as the Reagan tax cuts and the Reagan economic policy, which continue to be significant to the Reagan administration’s legacy, the president relied on Michel’s help to ensure these bills passed in the House. “I was Reagan’s point man in the House. [We] only had 192 Republican representatives and needed 218 for the bill to pass,” said Michel. 

He recalls writing the names of those poised to be swing votes in the House on a 3-by-5 index card and reporting his findings to the president. Then, in groups of 10, those members would be invited to meet with President Reagan in the White House. And the rest is history. 

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood ‘71 HON ‘11

Secretary of Transportation RAY LaHOOD ’71 HON ’11 exhibited his consensus-building leadership style during his 14 years representing Illinois’ 18th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2009, LaHood became Secretary of Transportation, where he uses this same leadership style to advance the Obama administration’s goals in the realm of transportation. 

His style is based on attempting to understand different aspects and viewpoints of issues that may divide people. The Republican transportation secretary explains, “I try to get everyone around the table and figure out the problem and the solutions to the problem. I believe problems get solved when everyone has their say about the problem and the solution, and then we are able to move forward.” He credits this style for his successful career in Congress.   

In 2004, this leadership approach, along with his problem-solving attitude, is what attracted a freshman senator from Illinois into a friendship with LaHood. Now, that senator has the top job in the United States, and LaHood believes his leadership traits attracted President Barack Obama to appoint him to his Cabinet.  

After Obama’s election to the U.S. Senate in 2004, he met with LaHood in his Peoria office. “We talked about how we were going to work together as a Democratic senator and a Republican representative in the House, for Illinois.” That friendship, along with LaHood’s leadership style, impacted Obama’s decision to appoint him. “He saw me as someone who is bipartisan, someone who could work with both parties and get things done for both parties,” LaHood said.

LaHood’s ability to be a consensus builder has aided him in becoming the first Cabinet member to hail from downstate Illinois since John Block, secretary of agriculture under Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1986.

Congressman Aaron Schock ‘02

By the time Congressman AARON SCHOCK ’02 turned 30 in May, he had already been president of the Peoria District 150 School Board and served two terms in the Illinois House of Representatives. Currently, he is serving his second term representing Illinois’ 18th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is part of a Bradley University tradition in Congress that started in 1957, 24 years before he was born. 

Schock’s time at Bradley foreshadowed his approach to politics. He was a student senator and also president of the Financial Management Association. “The environment at Bradley was supportive of my ambitious nature and gave me a lot of opportunities to get involved, which has been the way I have operated in the state assembly and now in Congress.” Schock noted, “Leadership is more than just having a great idea; it is about getting people behind that idea. Bradley is a great platform to learn that concept and then practice it as a student.”

These lessons helped Schock with a successful transition to life on Capitol Hill. In December 2010, Speaker of the House John Boehner appointed Schock to the House Committee on Ways and Means for the 112th Congress, making him the youngest member of the prestigious committee in 33 years. Schock also serves on the House Administration Committee. On February 14, Schock had the opportunity to occupy the Speaker’s seat and preside over the House of Representatives.

Continuing to create his legacy of public service, the congressman conducted his second annual Youth Leadership Summit on May 6, at Bradley’s Renaissance Coliseum. Eighteen-year-old Teresa Scanlan, Miss America 2011, was the keynote speaker for about 400 high school students from Illinois’ 18th Congressional District. 


KATIE CHILDS ’12 conducted interviews last December in Washington, D.C., and Peoria. She is an intern in the Peoria office of Congressman AARON SCHOCK ’02. She was a summer intern in the personal and leadership offices of Speaker of the House John Boehner in Washington, D.C. Katie is a history major with a minor in political science. She is president of College Republicans at Bradley and is first vice chair of the Illinois College Republican Federation. 



Bradley honors U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer

President Glasser awarded U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer the National Bipartisan Leadership Award in Washington, D.C., on June 13.

Lauded for seeing past party labels and parochial positions, U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer received the National Bipartisan Leadership Award from Bradley’s Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service (IPL) on June 13 in Washington, D.C.

The award recognizes a national public servant who has modeled ethical, civil, and bipartisan leadership. “For his 30 years in office, Congressman Hoyer has been a role model for the bipartisan, civil leadership that the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service at Bradley seeks to promote,” said Brad McMillan, executive director of IPL.


Read about U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer and his bipartisan leadership award from Bradley’s Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service.

Now in his 16th term serving Maryland’s 5th Congressional District, Hoyer served as House Majority Leader from 2007 to 2011. He is the second recipient of the National Bipartisan Leadership Award. U.S. Secretary of Transportation RAY LaHOOD ’71 HON ’11 received the inaugural award in October 2009.

—Erin Wood Miller ’09