“I think I always desired to come to DePauw,” the 44th Vice President of the United States said to a crowd of just over 800 in DePauw University’s Kresge Auditorium. “It’s a great school and it’s great to be home. Every time you come back you go back through memory lane. The longer you’re away from it the more you’ll yearn for it.”
Quayle, a 1969 DePauw graduate, talked politics, his rise to the vice presidency and the value of a liberal arts education during his 2 hour conversation with students and communications professor and fellow DePauw alum, Jeffery McCall.
“The liberal arts education exposes you to life,” the former vice-president said. “It’s what you learn in the classroom, but it’s also what you learn outside of the classroom.
Quayle said his rise to the white house, “all started at DePauw.” “When you see fellow alums, you always say ‘it all began at DePauw’ and it does all begin at DePauw. You can talk about where you were born, where you went to high school, but it’s where you went to college, and this is going to stick with you the rest of your life. You’re going to be amazed at the rewards you’re going to have after having gone to this great university.”
After his graduation from DePauw, Quayle attended law school, worked in a few public offices for the state and at age 27 he won a seat in US House of Representatives. Soon after at 33, he was elected to his Senate seat, which would serve as his launch pad to the White House.
After receiving a phone call from then, candidate George H.W. Bush, Quayle confirmed his interest in the position. His children were less than optimistic about his chances. “He’s not going to pick you…you’re not even a famous Senator,” his eldest daughter remarked.
Quayle didn’t just tell his own story.
Usually refraining from commenting on state legislation, Quayle also a former Senator and Representative for Indiana offered his take on the state’s controversial bill entitled RFRA, more popularly known as the “religious freedom bill.” He said, “I do think we ought to take a little bit of a pause here, and see what the bill really does. [We should] see what the fix can be and have an intelligent discourse on two very fundamental principles that are wrapped around this issue—the principles of religious freedom and religious liberty and the principle of nondiscrimination, Quayle said, “that there should not be any tolerance for discrimination against one’s race, religion or sexual orientation."
He also commented on the media firestorm that resulted as a result of the controversial legislation currently sitting on Governor Mike Pence’s desk. “When you hear words like Indiana, Hoosiers, believe in discrimination you have people like Al Sharpton saying this is like slavery and the Jim Crow laws, you just say, ‘Come on, let’s have a discussion,’ the nation’s former vice president said. “Let’s have a rational discussion. Let’s figure out what this is all about.”
He also commented on other important issues facing the United States including North Korea, Iran’s nuclear program and unrest in the Middle East. Quayle encouraged a bipartisan approach to these and other challenges facing the United States.
“Today members of the house and a lot of the senators don’t move their families to Washington,” Quayle said he and Democratic Senator, Dick Gephardt became friends, “not necessarily on the house floor where we were pounding each other everyday. We became friends because his kids were about the same age as my kids, and we lived close to each other, and we shared rides.”
Including lines that only people associated with DePauw could understand Quayle recalled his own experience, one he credited with starting his rise to prominence.
Quayle also cracked several jokes for the audience predominantly consisting of DePauw faculty, students and alumni.
“If you know the location of the DKE [Delta Kappa Epsilon] house is on 620 Anderson Street and the [Kappa Alpha] Theta house is way down over here,” he said. “And my dad a DKE married a theta, and that had to be true love to walk all the way across campus. I dated the Kappas and Pi Phis, I didn’t make it that far.”
When it came time for his children to choose a college Quayle admitted, “I wanted them to look at DePauw.”
They were afraid people would know them already if they attended.
“You guys are really not that smart,” Quayle, said, “wherever you go, they’re going to know where you are. So they picked Lehigh, Duke and Vanderbilt for whatever reason.”
McCall responded, “those were good schools though,” to which Quayle asserted, “They were good schools, but they weren’t as good as DePauw.”
First-year, Sarah Redman enjoyed the former Vice President’s remarks, “It was a great experience,” she said. “I was very inspired to see how far a liberal arts education can take you.”
After his lecture Quayle interacted with students on a campus tour, sitting in on a course and even playing golf with a few students. Sophomore golfer, Alex Ramirez, enjoyed her time on the course with Quayle.
“Playing golf with the former Vice President was truly a unique experience. It’s not everyday that you can play a round with someone who used to be in your shoes,” Ramirez said. “Hearing his experience just highlighted DePauw’s growth and impact on his life.”
Quayle’s lecture marked the year’s fourth Ubben lecture. Indianapolis Colts quarterback and Stanford University graduate, Andrew Luck is scheduled to be on campus April 24th.