Culver meets with students


by Tara Maurer

Senator John C. Culver visited Simpson College on Wednesday, March 9 to celebrate the opening of the Culver Public Policy Center.

Activities included a formal reception where students, faculty and staff were able to meet Culver, as well as Pizza and Politics with the Senator.

Pizza and Politics, one of the smaller events the center will be hosting, will consist of students meeting with different people in public service.

“Fittingly, the senator will be the first person for Pizza and Politics,” said Mary Sheka, executive director of the Culver Center.

Along with Pizza and Politics, the center will host the Annual Culver Lecture and numerous speakers throughout the year, as well as present the Culver award to an Iowan who is dedicated to public service and the Culver Fellowship.

Sheka stressed that the center is for everyone, whether it is communication students to cover politics, campaign workers, or students interested in public service.

“This is a bipartisan center,” Sheka said. “We want to engage all students to be interested in civic education and to be interested in public service and how public policy affects people’s lives,” Sheka said.

The center wants to focus on “experimental learning,” Sheka said.

The center will also have a hand in the Iowa Caucus.

Reporters come to Iowa from all over the United States, and really don’t know much about the caucus, Senator John C. Culver said.

“The center will be a hub of information and events for the caucus,” Culver said.

Freshman Annie Olson, who was one of four students to receive the Culver Fellowship, a scholarship for those students interested in public policy, was excited to meet with Culver again.

“He is very personable,” Olson said. “He has a wealth of knowledge, and is eager to share it with us. I love hearing all of his stories.”

Sheka agreed with Olson, saying that Culver is “engaging.” Sheka added that Culver’s life is inspiring due to his “moral integrity.”

While there are other public policy centers throughout the U.S., this center is “unique to Iowa,” Sheka said.

Culver was encouraged to choose Simpson as the site for his center after learning about Simpson’s recognition of Henry Wallace, who was the topic of a book Culver co-authored, as well as Simpson’s connection to George Washington Carver.

“The fact that Simpson had identification with Wallace [gave] it a natural appeal,” Culver said.

Culver hopes this center can be the “spark” to light student interest in politics.

“There is a need as never before – a critical need – to inspire young people to enter public service,” Culver said.

Culver represented Iowa in both the House of Representatives and Senate during the Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter Administrations. He attended school in Cedar Rapids, and upon graduating attended Harvard College. Culver served as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps. Later, Culver practiced law in Washington D.C.