March 8, 2009

Walter Mondale and Dave Durenberger speak on "Reflections on Public Life and Civic Engagement"

COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. - Two senior statesmen will talk about their years of public service and civic engagement during a panel discussion at 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 16, at Pellegrene Auditorium, Saint John’s University, Collegeville.

Former Vice President Walter Mondale and former Sen. Dave Durenberger will speak on “Reflections on Public Life and Civic Engagement.” They will be joined by moderator Gary Eichten, host and producer of Minnesota Public Radio’s Midday program.

The discussion, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement at CSB and SJU. The center seeks to engage the campus and wider community in debate and discourse regarding public policy and public affairs.

Mondale, Durenberger and Eichten are no strangers to the SJU campus.

Mondale, the nation’s 42nd vice president under Jimmy Carter, was a eulogist during the Memorial Mass for former Sen. Eugene McCarthy Jan. 23, 2006, at the Abbey Church. McCarthy was an SJU graduate.

Durenberger, who served in the U.S. Senate from 1978-95, recently completed the second annual Eugene McCarthy Scholar in Residence at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. And, both Durenberger (Class of 1955) and Eichten (Class of 1969) are graduates of SJU.

Many political scientists credit the Carter/Mondale administration for creating a new model of the role of a vice president. Mondale traveled extensively throughout the world advocating U.S. policy. He was the first vice president to have an office in the White House, and he served as a full-time advisor and troubleshooter for the administration.

Before becoming vice president, Mondale served as Minnesota attorney general from 1960-64, and as a senator from 1964-76.

He was the Democratic nominee for president in 1984, losing the election to President Ronald Reagan. He served as ambassador to Japan under President Bill Clinton in 1993-96, and was tabbed in 2002 to replace Sen. Paul Wellstone as the Democratic nominee for Senate after Wellstone died in a plane crash 11 days before the election. Mondale lost the election to Norm Coleman.

Born in St. Cloud, Durenberger was the son of long-time SJU athletic director George Durenberger. During his tenure in the Senate, Durenberger served as chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence; chairman of the Health Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee; and chaired the Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee.

Durenberger is currently a senior health policy fellow at the University of St. Thomas, and chairs the National Institute of Health Policy, a program of St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business. He was also named by Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to lead the Minnesota Citizens Forum on Health Care Costs.