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McAuliffe says his Mason classroom will hold 'a lot of excitement'

March 29, 2018   /   by John Hollis

George Mason University, Terry McAuliffe, Schar School, distinguished visiting professor

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, talking to Mason students at a recent event, is a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the university's Schar School of Policy and Government. Photo by Ron Aira.

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe joined the George Mason University community on Monday when the Schar School of Policy and Government announced his appointment as a Distinguished Visiting Professor.

Read the announcement here.

McAuliffe served as the 72nd governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2014 to 2018. He previously led Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and headed the Democratic National Committee (2001-2005).  He co-chaired President Bill Clinton’s successful 1996 re-election campaign and 1997 Inauguration.

McAuliffe, a graduate of Catholic University and the Georgetown University Law School, spoke about his classroom philosophy and his goals for his time at Mason.

Q. You’re no stranger to George Mason, having spoken here at the 2016 Spring Commencement and at the dedication of the Schar School later that same year, and you’ve broken news many times at Mason. What about Mason appeals to you, and how do you see your role in shaping public service leaders of the future?

A. George Mason stands out. Look at the service to the community. It has the highest number of diverse students in the commonwealth. George Mason is an avenue for students to come get the skills to prepare them for the 21st-century economy…an incubator for learning. And it’s exciting. When I talk about that learning of that 21st century in a disruptive economy, that’s happening here. The students who graduate from George Mason, they’re prepared to go out into that new economy.

Q. How do you see yourself using the Schar School platform to promote greater public engagement in public policy issues and debates?

A. I want to use this to do policy seminars all over the country to talk about the issues. The people who have been left out of the new economy, some haven’t seen their paychecks go up in years. I want to have a whole discussion about how we bring those folks back in and come up with creative ideas of how everybody can benefit from a booming economy. My real hope is really to go out and talk to those folks who have been left out, who just feel like nobody is out there for them. They haven’t seen a pay raise in years and their health care costs have gone up. I want to have a discussion around the country about how we build the greatest economy in the world, a new 21st-century disruptive economy that everybody is included.

Q. What kind of lecture can students expect from Professor McAuliffe?

A. A lot of excitement. I never hold anything back. I love a good, healthy discussion on issues. I’ve been in national politics for 40 years. I have held every job you can have in the Democratic Party in this great country. It was a great opportunity and the greatest experience of my life being the 72nd governor, so I’ll be bringing that to the classroom. … I don’t pretend to know it all, so I think in the classroom, we’re going to have a good, honest discussion. I try to bring people together, build compromise. What’s happened in this country today is so many people are divided—my way or the highway. We’ve got to come back to reasonable discussions, reasonable debates and come together on consensus for what’s best for yourself and what’s best for the country. That’s what you’ll see—lively debates.

Q. As someone with extensive international business experience, you know the advantages of global education. How important is it for students to consider studying abroad and other global educational opportunities?

A. Every student should [study abroad] if they have that opportunity for two reasons: You realize there’s a whole other world outside this great country to experience, the different issues that they have, the difference circumstances that they have. I was the most traveled governor in America, 35 trade missions before that. I’ve done business all over the world. So when you travel abroad, it’s great and exciting. I love the excitement of it all, but there’s nothing like coming home. There’s nothing like landing back in the United States of America. It makes you value and realize how lucky you are to be an American.