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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

32 Years and Counting

More than 2,500 students participate in the Les Aspin Center for Government since its founding in 1988.

Its mission is to provide “academic and internship programming focused on the public policy making process,” according to the program’s website. The program offers educational opportunities in Washington, D.C., and Milwaukee.

Fr. Timothy O’Brien, founder and director of the Les Aspin program, says the process of founding the center has been challenging. 

“It was bumpy and very difficult,” O’Brien says. “It started with a good thing, as the first summer program took place in 1988. In the fall of 1988, the students who joined seemed very smart, bright and confident, and that is when I knew that something good had occurred.”

O’Brien says the programs has become sophisticated, but it did not come without backlash from other faculty. O’Brien says full support of the program came from the College of Arts & Sciences after the second summer. The program officially begins in 1993, as a full-semester program starts.

O’Brien says the first full-semester of the program went extraordinarily well.

“The final component of officially implementing a full-time program was the support of Marquette’s president and vice president at the time and with their support as well as hiring Les Aspin to fundraise money it opened the door for a full presence in D.C.,” O’Brien says.

Marty Ordinans, a 2015 Marquette alum and current assistant director of the Les Aspin Center for the past four years, said the program draws students from many other universities and that it has far-ranging effects regardless of ones’ major. 

“We welcome students of all majors and have some really great internship opportunities for students outside the traditional political science, communications, international affairs or business backgrounds,” Ordinans says. “For example, every summer we usually have a cohort of biomedical sciences students who intern for the FDA or nursing students who get into public health while here. We really can provide a valuable experience for any background.”

Ordinans says the year 2020 will be another strong year for the center.

“The only major change is a new class offering that will be starting in the fall of this year,” Ordinans says. 

Claire Stanley, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, is currently participating in the Les Aspin program in D.C.

Stanley explains how the program is introducing a new course that focuses on U.S. history and the history of D.C. 

“The new course will explore how Washington D.C. was developed and built and how that influences the American Political Sphere,” she says.

Stanley says students are currently working in the Senate with senators like Tammy Baldwin, Dick Durbin and Diane Feinstein. She also says students working in the House of Representatives and are working with those like Mike Gallagher, Gwen Moore, Cheri Bustos and Danny Davis.

Ordinans says the programs’ classes fits into Marquette’s new academic core.

“This will be helpful in expanding accessibility for students to have the Aspin Center be a part of their Marquette experience,” she says. 

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