When U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad figured out law school wasn’t his calling, George Washington University welcomed him into the Business School in the middle of the year, he said, with “open arms.”
Sen. Conrad, M.B.A. ’75, reminisced fondly on his time at GW on Tuesday when he was honored by his alma mater and friend and colleague Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for his 26 years in the Senate at the GW Annual Capitol Hill Alumni Reception. Sen. Conrad remembered a particularly strong relationship with his adviser and a rewarding experience in his classes.
“In class after class, the professors were engaged, the students were engaged,” he said. “And I really enjoyed my time there.”
Sen. Reid, J.D. ’64, remembered the first time he met Sen. Conrad.
“It was 1986, and we were both running for the Senate. And we both looked at each other, I’m sure, [and said], ‘He’s going to be in the Senate?’ ” he said to laughter.
Calling Sen. Conrad “very calculating in what he wants to accomplish,” Sen. Reid lauded his colleague for his work addressing the country’s deficit. “I told Kent Conrad several years ago that I joined his church,” Sen. Reid said. “That’s the church of doing something about the deficit.”
GW President Steven Knapp, too, praised Sen. Conrad for his role in budget talks, having served as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.
“In your 26 years in the Senate you’ve not only been a champion for North Dakota, but you played a truly powerful role in addressing important national issues, including the federal budget challenges.”
Sen. Conrad has “extraordinary skill, wisdom and dedication,” Dr. Knapp added. “We’ve always been able to turn to you for help, support and guidance. So we all wish you the best in your future endeavors.”
Tuesday’s event was also a time to recognize all GW alumni for their service on the Hill. Thirteen members of Congress, including U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-WY, who was at Tuesday’s event, are GW alumni, and many, many more serve as Hill staffers.
“We have this strong dedication to public service, which is reflected in what so many of you in this room have chosen to do with your career,” Dr. Knapp said. “We are an institution that was founded based on the vision of George Washington to produce citizen leaders for the new nation in the capital that he was just establishing.”
Mark Kennedy, a former congressman and director of the GW Graduate School of Political Management, said he, too, knows the crucial role the university plays in building public servants.
“We understand the importance of staff on the Hill,” he said. “Having been in Congress, there’s the old saying that staff runs the Hill. We’re pleased to have the opportunity to train as many as possible.”