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Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – The Scholars Garden is the area of the Clinton Presidential Park between the Clinton School and the National Archives staff offices. The garden, which is a wireless hotspot, is a place where people can gather, relax, have lunch and work on their laptop computers.
When the Scholars Garden was first built, the “mounds” which were developed as part of the landscaping were merely for decor. However, they soon became outdoor stages and electrical outlets were added so music could be played and hot food could be served from them. Still one had to walk up and walk through what we in Arkansas call “monkey grass” to access the top of each.
We’ve informally named these mounds “Tyler Denton Mounds” after the former Clinton Foundation director of special events who now works for Bono in Washington and who was instrumental in the opening of the Clinton Center and Park. There’s Denton I, II, III and IV. President Clinton spoke at an event honoring the Clinton Center volunteers from Denton II. I also spoke there at a reception when I was named Dean of the Clinton School. Most recently, we had a spirited game of Clinton School baggo (Russ Swearingen won top prize) there. And, in a very moving and powerful ceremony last winter, names of those who had died from AIDS were read continously from Denton IV over a 24-hour period.
As you will note in the picture, stairs to each of the Tyler Denton mounds have been added making them even more accessible for use by the public, the Clinton Foundation, the National Archives and the Clinton School.
New stairs have been added to Denton I.
Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – In case you missed it, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette last week ran a feature story about the working homeless shelter Our House and the Clinton School’s impact there. Clinton School inaugural grad and current faculty member Joe Ballard did his final Capstone project with Our House, where he completed an extensive application that landed five full-time volunteers for the shelter that provides support to bring people out of homelessness. Ballard’s work brought five AmeriCorp VISTA volunteers with an estimated worth of $375,000 over three years to the shelter. Joe’s work shows the value of the Clinton School’s public service projects, not only to the students but to the community itself. Download this PDF to read the story: our-house.pdf.
Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – We just got word that Clinton School grad Christin Harper has been hired as a senior policy analyst at the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS). Christin completed her Clinton School Capstone (final) project this year with DHS, where she worked on immigrant policy and planning. She completed her international project in Vietnam last summer where she worked with Heifer International on developing handicraft workshops for persons with disabilities. She earned her undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt University in European Studies and French.
Congrats to Christin!
Q&A with DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD –
Q: What’s it like at the Clinton School during the summer?
A. While different from the traditional school year, it’s still a busy time. Our students are working on their summer international public service projects, and we’re working to make sure they’ve arrived safely in their respective locations on all six inhabited continents. While some have experienced airline delays and spent far more time than expected in airports, we’ve been fortunate. We’re also planning orientation for our new class arriving in August, finalizing the fall and spring curriculum schedule and school calendar, working on budgets and coordinating our summer, fall and spring public programs.
Q. Was it sad to see them leave?
A. Exciting is more descriptive. Having seen the personal growth as a result of the international experiences from our those in our two previous classes, I know some of our students will have life-changing experiences. What’s more difficult for me is realizing how quickly these nine months (August 2007 to May 2008) have passed. This fall about half of our students will be returning to Little Rock for their final capstone (individual) public service projects. Others will be working all over the country and the world.
Q. How do you keep in touch with students abroad?
A. Email makes international communication much easier, and some of our students have blogs. I read them daily.
Q. What can you tell us about your new class that will be entering this fall?
A. It’s very strong. We’ll be announcing the members in a few weeks.
Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – Three Clinton School students — Julie West, Carly Benkov and Molly Brunkow – are completing their International Public Service Projects in Nepal where the country’s Constituent Assembly voted yesterday to abolish the monarchy and declared Nepal a federal republic. West, who is working with a rural education and development program in Kathmandu, reports on yesterday’s events on her blog:
Yesterday was a big day in Kathmandu and all of Nepal. The Constituent Assembly voted, as expected, to abolish the monarchy and Nepal was declared a federal republic. We had a national holiday, in fact, the first National Republic Day. It was a peaceful day and the people were out in a festival atmosphere. I toured Durbar Square and enjoyed the beautiful weather. It is expected to take up to two more years to write the new Consitution. The assembly also decided to establish a ceremonial Presidency but still have to decide the functions of that office.
While many in the country are still on holiday and the banks and certain businesses were closed. My office, READ Nepal, is an oasis amidst the sometimes chaotic noise and traffice of Kathmandu. More on my little oasis later.
Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – The Associated Press has a preview story on the late state Senator Vada Sheid’s book, “Nothing Personal, Just Politics,” which will be read tonight at the Clinton School. Click here for the article. Sheid, of Mountain Home, was the first woman elected in her own right to the Arkansas House and Arkansas Senate. Governor Mike Beebe, who served with Sheid in the Senate, will be one of the readers.
Posted by BEN BEAUMONT – Our nextdoor neighbor, the Clinton Presidential Library, launched a new brochure today to promote the “Billgrimage” tour of Clinton-related sites throughout Arkansas. Library director Terri Garner also discussed possible exhibit changes to freshen up the museum. Click here for an Associated Press story about possible changes. Here’s an excerpt:
The permanent exhibits at the Clinton Presidential Library could be revamped or entirely changed as the landmark dedicated to the former president’s time in office approaches its fifth anniversary, the facility’s director said Tuesday.
Library director Terri Garner said discussions have begun about how best to showcase Bill Clinton’s pursuits since leaving office in January 2001. That could include displays about work done by the William J. Clinton Foundation, which focuses on HIV/AIDS prevention and environmental policy.
Then there’s also the matter of his wife, Hillary, and her own political career in the years since.
“You have to be a little bit careful because this is a library about his presidency,” Garner said. “However, there needs to be an aspect of the ongoing post-presidency as well.”
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe addressed the 2008 commencement ceremony for the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts (ASMSA) Saturday in Hot Springs. In his remarks to the 112 graduates, the Governor said, “Education is a life long process that never stops. The opportunities for you and your skills have never been better.”
ASMSA opened in 1993 as the Arkansas’s first statewide public residential high school. The idea for the school came from then Governor Bill Clinton and was patterned after a successful model in North Carolina. I had the privilege of serving as the inaugural chair of its advisory board, and it’s always a thrill returning to commencement.
Over the past 15 years, ASMSA has received the support of Governors Jim Guy Tucker and Mike Huckabee. The school began with only a focus on Math and Science before Governor Huckabee added arts to its mission.
Beebe’s message also reflected on the importance of service.
“Nobody gets where we are alone,” he said. “Everybody has help. Everybody is a collection of efforts.”
Among the colleges and universities ASMSA graduates will be attending include: Brown, Case Western, Emory, Hendrix, LSU, Lyon, Ouachita, Ozarks, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Rhodes, Rice, Rutgers, Syrcause, TCU, Tennessee, Trinity, Tulane, University of Arkansas, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, University of Central Arkansas, University of St. Andrews (Scotland), USC, Tulsa, Virginia Tech, Westminister, and Yale.
Hopefully in the future some of these students will do their graduate work at the Clinton School.
ASMSA is part of the University of Arkansas System. UofA President Dr. Alan Sugg and board member John Ed Anthony joined Beebe at the graduation.
Posted by DEAN SKIP RUTHERFORD – I am convinced Hillary Clinton meant no harm when she referred to Senator Robert Kennedy’s assasination. While it may have been an unfortunate choice of words taken out of context, it’s clear she was referring to the June time period and pointing out that presidential primary campaigns can be lengthy. Remembering 1968 well, I realize the process did extend longer into the calendar year. Knowing her for over 30 years and to think she would exploit an assasination is absolutely ridiculous.
John McCain’s choice to coordinate the vice presidential selection process is a good one. Arthur Culvahouse, who was counsel to President Ronald Reagan and has advised other Republican presidents, brings great experience. From a local perspective, he’s a friend of former Clinton Chief of Staff Mack McLarty and I’ve been with Art on several occasions. You can be assured Art will do a thorough job.
A newspaper article today points out there are over 900,000 homeless children attending public schools in America. The Chicago public schools are even considering a boarding school to help address the issue. The subject of homeless children in the Little Rock schools will be one of our fall community conversations at the Clnton School. Everytime this subject comes up, I am reminded of the late Catholic Priest Father Joseph Biltz who over 25 years ago reminded us that we were a country which tolerated homeless families and hungry children. Sadly, we still are.