Colorado State University political science Professor John Straayer has been more than just a familiar presence at the State Capitol for the past 37 years; he was the driving force behind CSU’s highly regarded legislative internship program.
Driving force, not only because Straayer served as the program’s organizer, mentor and biggest booster for all those years, but also because he literally drove his students down to the Capitol each session in a familiar, white van. Session after session, he hand-delivered a fresh batch of wide-eyed interns eager to learn about the legislative process and willing to take up the ritual chores of internship that go with the process: doing research, answering phones, licking envelopes and the like. The six-credit practicum on legislative politics has provided more than 1,000 students over the years with hands-on learning experience within the inner workings of Colorado’s government.
The 2017 legislative session was Straayer’s last overseeing the internship program. He still teaches political science at the Fort Collins campus but has handed the reins of the program over to a colleague to take a deserved rest.
Now, the school has announced, Straayer’s decades-long dedication to generations of interns will be honored — and taken to the next level — with the newly established Straayer Center for Public Service Leadership.
A CSU press release announcing the center’s launch offered details:
The Straayer Center will house the Legislative Internship Program, helping to expand and deepen the program, as well as coordinate a speaker series and mentorship programs to invite key community leaders to campus, bringing lessons learned in the legislative offices back to CSU. To kick off the fall 2017 semester, the Straayer Center launched the Straayer Symposium Series featuring Congressman Jared Polis, as well as a “Pizza and Politics” program featuring Abraham M. Denmark, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia. The Straayer Center will soon offer outreach programs that teach students the foundations of public service leadership.
Straayer himself will of course be involved in the endeavor, serving as faculty adviser to the center. Says Strayer:
“It is gratifying to know that through this Center our programs that meld academics with real-world practicum opportunities for our students will continue, grow and prosper. The Center will ensure that this door is wide open for the coming generation.”
The new center is also raising funds for the Straayer Citizenship and Public Service Scholarship Endowment and is challenging alumni, friends, and colleagues to chip in. When the fund-raising effort hits the $10,000 mark, Straayer and wife Judy Straayer have pledged to match it.
Here’s how you can help and learn more.