Waggoner Center increases political presence at Tech

January 28, 2010

by Quentin Anderson

Following an appearance by political strategist and pollster Charlie Cook as the Joe D. Waggonner Center of Bipartisan Politics inaugural speaker in the fall, the center has been focused on securing funding for future endeavors and programs.

Jason Pigg, interim head of the department of social sciences and endowed professor of the Waggonner Center, said the center has made great progress in establishing itself to the student body.

“I think the main goal was to introduce the center to students and faculty this year,” Pigg said.
“I think we did that with bringing in Charlie Cook in the fall and showing the great connection that Rep. Waggonner’s legacy has with the center’s purpose.”

Pigg said the center has been focused on fundraising since Cook appeared in the fall.

“So far, we have raised $100,000 for the center,” Pigg said.
The goal, he said, was to raise $1 million to build on current projects such as an internship program that would have students working in Sen. Mary Landrieu’s Washington D.C. office or at the Washington Center. The center has also been considering hosting conferences to bring multiple guest speakers to the university to discuss particular themes.

“It’s open to any student on campus,” Pigg said. “We don’t have a formal application process right now simply because we’re not sure which location the internship will take place at.”

For many students who attended the Cook lecture in the fall, anticipation about the center’s next steps has been mounting.

Christian Macklin, a senior economics major, said the center seemed to be a resource that could potentially give students rare connections to power players in government.

“It just seems like there’s a lot of anticipation on who will come next because you never know if it’s someone who can particularly impact your career field,” Macklin said.
“Can you imagine being an economics major and [former Treasury Secretary] Larry Summers speaks at your school; Or [former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan] Greenspan? That’s unreal.”

Shanon Anthony, a sophomore history major, said the idea of having an internship program that can put students in direct contact with the nation’s capital was a huge advantage over other political science programs.

“I just feel like that gives you an incentive to want to do well knowing that an opportunity like that exists on your campus,” Anthony said. “The Waggonner Center seems to really be trying to improve our stature in that area.”

Pigg said in addition to the planned internship program and the guest speakers, the Waggonner Center has been working on making the late Rep. Waggonner’s congressional papers available through the university library and expanding the center’s reach to other areas of interest for students on campus.

“That process started a year ago, and it will be a great resource for students later on,” Pigg said.
“But we hope to expand the center’s activities so that it fits with other students as well, but right now it’s a natural fit with our political science majors.”