Alumni representing five HLS classes gathered on the law school campus at a reunion weekend in May. Panel discussions and lectures by distinguished alums marked the occasion. Here are some highlights:
Gergen views '08 candidates through generational filter
This year's presidential contest is "the most fascinating race here in this country in a half century," keynote speaker David Gergen '67 told a reunion audience.
"Whoever gets elected, there is an appreciation now that we are breaking down the barriers to race and ethnicity and gender in terms of who can succeed," said Gergen, who served as an adviser to four U.S. presidents (Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton) and is now a senior political analyst for CNN and professor of public service at the Harvard Kennedy School.
The leaders who ran the country from 1960 to 1992 were young men during World War II and part of a generation whose political differences were transcended by a sense of common sacrifice, Gergen said. Recent leaders like Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Dick Cheney and George Bush, he added, are part of a generation that came of age during a time of rebellion in the '60s and '70s, which brought about tremendous change, but which also fractured that generation, particularly around the issue of war service.
"The generation that has come since then doesn't have all those old scars," Gergen said. "I think a lot of the divisions we had during the '60s and '70s, we brought to Washington, and that has deepened the polarization—greatly. I think one of the things Barack [Obama '91] represents is he is post that generation. He doesn't have any of those hang-ups of that generation. And, strikingly, John McCain is prior to that generation."
Brown urges others to support national service programs
In another reunion event, Michael Brown '88 said his and Alan Khazei's ('87) time at HLS inspired them to found City Year, a successful national service program that led to the formation of AmeriCorps.
"It was really during our time here … that we committed to the concept of doing everything to bring about the day when the most commonly asked question of an 18-year-old would be, 'Where will you do your service year?'" said Brown.
After earning his law degree, Brown turned down a clerkship with then U.S. Circuit Judge Stephen Breyer '64 to start City Year with Khazei. The program took off when Bill Clinton, who was still governor of Arkansas and a presidential candidate, visited the organization's Boston location. That visit inspired Clinton to form AmeriCorps during his first year as president, as a way to fund City Year and other national service programs.
Calling for a "G.I. Bill for the 21st century," Brown said he wants national service to stand alongside military service, and he urged the audience to push for national and international service programs, saying service has the power to unite the country and provide opportunities for the U.S. to repair international relationships.