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OU's Voinovich School teaches practical politics

[news from the Columbus Dispatch]

Joe Hallett
December 1, 2013

ATHENS, Ohio — Once again, George V. Voinovich was delighted to be in the bowels.

Throughout his eight years as Ohio governor and 12 as a U.S. senator, Voinovich relentlessly evoked the intestinal imagery to emphasize his crusade to make government more efficient, saying to do so he first had to “get into the bowels” of the bureaucracy.

One day last month, with his omnipresent wife, Janet, alongside, Voinovich shivered in the temperature-controlled bowels of the Voinovich Archives at Ohio University, a kid in a candy shop amid the rows and rows of bins holding the detritus of his long political career.

There were boxes containing personal letters, cassettes of TV ads, ceremonial coffee mugs, silver shears for ribbon cuttings, and a beer can Voinovich had plucked from a brewery line in Wuhan, Ohio’s sister state in China.

Atop one bin was a white football helmet signed by Cody Risien and Anthony Munoz, former offensive tackles for the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals, rivals who cut a commercial together in 1998 to support Voinovich’s Senate bid.

Amid the 390 cubic feet of space devoted to his Senate career and 1,400 cubic feet to his governorship, Voinovich zeroed in excitedly on boxes labeled “OIT” (Operations Improvement Task Force) and “QSTP” (Quality Service Through Partnerships) — programs only a bowel-dwelling governor could have imagined.

“Well babe,” Voinovich said to Janet, “we’ve got to come back and go through this stuff.”

In a sense, Clevelander George Voinovich never really left Ohio University after graduating in 1958 when he served as student body president. His legacy is enshrined in the archives and buildings across campus and infused in the curriculum. Few universities have favored a son as OU has Voinovich.

In several buildings on The Ridges, site of the former mental hospital overlooking the West Green, the George V. Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs now has more than 100 degree-seeking students and 11 faculty members, offering master’s degrees in public administration and environmental studies.

“Given that he’s one of the most-distinguished alumni of the university and that he’s had 43 years of distinguished service to the United States and Ohio, I’m not sure you could get a more-appropriate choice to name a leadership and public-affairs school after,” said Mark Weinberg, director of the Voinovich School.

On their daylong visit to campus, the Voinoviches were in high demand, whisked through the archives, lunching with top faculty members, teaching a political science class, and hailed by staff at the Voinovich School, whose corridors are graced with the photos and artifacts of the 77-year-old Republican’s life and times in politics.

Read the entire article online at the Columbus Dispatch by clicking here.