Ray LaHood Named Distinguished Fellow

August 21, 2013

Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation and U.S. Congressman Ray LaHood has been named the first Honorary Senior Distinguished Fellow for the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service (IPL) at Bradley University.  Through his appointment former Secretary LaHood will participate in national public policy symposiums on Bradley’s campus and guest lecture to Bradley students.

“The outstanding 36 year public service career of former Secretary Ray LaHood embodies the kind of principled leadership Bradley University seeks to develop in our students as they become the next generation of public service leaders,” said Bradley University President Joanne Glasser.

Brad McMillan, Executive Director of IPL said, “Ray LaHood is the first Bradley alumnus asked to serve in a President’s cabinet.  He served with great distinction in the U.S. Congress for 14 years and his experiences in the public service arena will be of great benefit to Bradley students.”

LaHood says he has a deep fondness for Bradley.  “It is where I met my wife Kathy and received a great education.  I believe that the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service at Bradley can inspire a new generation of public service leaders to use a bipartisan and collaborative approach to resolving America’s toughest issues.”  He went on to say public service can be a notable profession worthy of the best and brightest graduates.  “I am excited to be associated with the great work IPL is doing at Bradley University.”  He received his Bachelor of Science degree in education and sociology from Bradley in 1971 and served on the Bradley Board of Trustees from 1999-2006.

During his departing press conference as U.S. Secretary of Transportation, President Barack Obama stated, “Ray LaHood is an outstanding public servant who is a role model for the bipartisan leadership America so desperately needs.” LaHood has modeled his career after some Central Illinois leaders who he felt embodied that spirit of bipartisanship.

Former Secretary LaHood said the people of Central Illinois should be proud that we have sent so many great officials to Washington and Springfield who are willing to work across party lines and compromise.  “Bipartisanship is part of the rich political history of this region going back to Lincoln, who got Congress to pass Emancipation.  Without U.S. Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen, the Civil Rights Act never could’ve happened.  And we can’t forget Bob Michel, who worked with Tip O’Neil and Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.”

The Dirksen Congressional Center called LaHood’s career one of distinction especially giving credit to his parliamentary knowledge and fair demeanor, citing one of the hallmarks of his career in Congress as his ability to bring a varied group of people together to work for the good of a community, the State, or on a particular issue.  LaHood co-founded the Bipartisan Congressional Retreat, was a leader among the members of the Illinois Congressional delegation on issues important to the State, and convened meetings of local State legislators and elected officials to work on the priorities of local communities.

LaHood, a former U.S. Representative from Illinois (1994-2008), became the Secretary of Transportation under President Barack Obama in 2009. He led a 60,000-employee agency that regulates American aviation, highways, railroads, public transit, seaways, traffic safety and pipelines, among other modes of transportation.  In 1998 he was called upon to preside over House impeachment hearings for President Bill Clinton. Previously, he served in the Illinois House of Representatives in 1982 and 1983, and, before and after that period, as an aide to other Illinois congressional representatives (1977-1982 and 1983-1994). LaHood is the only Republican Obama cabinet nominee who has served in elective office.

The Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service at Bradley University promotes a return to statesmanship at all levels of government. Its goal is to become a Midwestern think tank advocating for a bipartisan leadership approach to resolve America’s most pressing problems.