Lee Hamilton ’52 reflects on time at DePauw and life success

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"How could such towering figures in U.S. foreign policy hail from a farm state where folks are more concerned about the height of the corn than the height of international intrigue?,” poses writer Adam Wren for a feature in the Indianapolis Monthly on Senator Richard Lugar and Representative Lee Hamilton, a 1952 graduate of DePauw University. In the article, Stern asked the two Indiana friends and colleagues most of the right questions; however, he forgot to ask Hamilton one vital question: How did your experience at DePauw University, a liberal arts institution, assist you, at all, in your future career endeavors? Luckily, The DePauw did.

“I had a marvelous four years at DePauw,” said Hamilton. “My time here sharpened my understanding of issues and gave me confidence that I could achieve any endeavor.”

While at DePauw, Hamilton was a history major and a basketball standout, an athletic achievement that led him to be inducted into the Capital One Academic All-America Hall of Fame last summer. Basketball was particularly important.

“I enjoyed all of my activities especially basketball,” recites Hamilton. “My coaches were also very inspirational.”

Though Hamilton viewed the teaching at DePauw as “marvelous” and graduated with high distinction, he did not have a clear vision of his future after graduation.

“The one thing DePauw did not do was point me in a chosen profession. I took me a few years to figure that out,” said Hamilton.

Despite Hamilton’s initial professional uncertainty, he became a dedicated public servant after attending Indiana University School of Law – Bloomington and working as a private practice lawyer in Columbus, Indiana. In 1964, Hamilton was elected to the House of Representatives and from there he served on several committees such as the House Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran and has received numerous awards. Hamilton was even awarded the highest civilian award of the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President Barak Obama in November 2015.

“I look at my years back on DePauw as a marvelous four years,” reflected Hamilton.

Hamilton is only one of many DePauw graduates who have reflected on their college experience with joy and have had a prolific career. Meg Kissinger ‘79, investigative health reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the 2015-16 Eugene S. Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Professor of Journalism, also credits her education and experience at DePauw for assisting in areas of her career.

At DePauw, Kissinger served as editor-in-chief of The DePauw, which she credits as a main focus. As part of the newspaper in the 70’s, Kissinger mentioned that a lot of time was spent questioning authority because of the Watergate Scandal and fallout from the Vietnam War.

“I really learned how to question things,” said Kissinger. “I learned to not take things at face value and to think critically.”

Unlike Hamilton, Kissinger had a clear idea of what she wanted to do and even owes her first two jobs to DePauw. After graduation, she worked as a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times in upstate New York and the Cincinnati Post. In 1983, she joined the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. As journalist, Kissinger has been awarded twice with George Polk Award in Journalism and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting in 2009.

“DePauw definitely served as a great spring board,” reflected Kissinger.

Stephen Hayes ’93, a columnist for The Weekly Standard, the official biographer of Vice President Dick Cheney, and a regular commentator on Fox News, too credits his liberal arts education at DePauw for preparing him for his future career in journalism.

“As a journalist who covers a wide variety of subjects, nothing could have better prepared me for my career than the liberal arts studies at DePauw,” reflected Hayes. “It wasn't so much that DePauw taught me what to think as how to think — and what questions to ask.”

Keeping to the tune of Hamilton and Kissinger, Hayes also credits his Midwestern roots and liberal arts education: “But there's a lot of wisdom to be had from the cornfields and classrooms in Greencastle. And I remain grateful for everything I learned there.”

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