Campus & Community

David Pryor Named Director of the Institute of Politics

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David Pryor. Photo by Martha Stewart.

Former U.S. Sen. David Pryor, who retired in 1996 after 30 years of public service on behalf of the state of Arkansas, has been named director of the Institute of Politics (IOP) at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Dean Joseph S. Nye Jr. announced on Tuesday, April 11.

Pryor will assume the directorship on August 1, 2000, succeeding Alan K. Simpson, the former U.S. senator from Wyoming. After two and one-half years at the helm, Simpson will be returning home to teach at the University of Wyoming.

“I have enormous respect for David Pryor,” said Sen. Edward Kennedy, a member of the IOP board of directors. “He was an outstanding senator for Arkansas, and he’s an outstanding choice to succeed Al Simpson. The Institute of Politics has a special place in the hearts of all of us in the Kennedy family, and I look forward to working closely with David Pryor in the years ahead.”

“I am pleased that Senator Pryor will be joining us as the Director of the Institute,” said Dean Joseph Nye in his announcement on Tuesday. “Senator Pryor is one of the most distinguished public servants in the country. He has extensive experience both at the local and national level and he has demonstrated a commitment to the IOP’s mission. He will contribute immeasurably to the University as a whole.”

The Institute of Politics was established in 1966 as a living memorial to former President Kennedy, to encourage student involvement in politics and public service, and to increase the understanding between scholarly and political communities.

Pryor will oversee all of the IOP’s activities, including its resident Fellows Program for individuals active in public life; student study groups and internships; special conferences and seminars for elected officials; and lectures, debates, and symposia.

The IOP also manages the Forum, Harvard’s principal stage for public affairs, events, and debates. Pryor has experience at the IOP, having served as a resident fellow in the spring of 1999.

Pryor served for six years in the U.S. House of Representatives and four years as the governor of Arkansas. He went on to be elected to the U.S. Senate in 1979 and served for 18 years. He served on the Senate Finance Committee, chairing a subcommittee with responsibility for private pension legislation and oversight of the Internal Revenue Service. While in this position, he developed his Taxpayers Bill of Rights which was enacted in 1988.

Pryor served on the Governmental Affairs Committee and as chairman of its Subcommittee on Federal Services, Civil Service and Post Office. While in this position, he fought to bring common sense to government spending procedures and create within the Pentagon an independent weapons-testing office.

Pryor was also secretary of the Democratic Conference, was third in the Senate Democratic leadership, and served as a member of the Senate Democratic Steering Committee.

Since retiring from the Senate in 1996, Pryor has been a Fulbright Distinguished Fellow of Law and Public Affairs at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. He is also a director of the investment firm of Herrington, Inc.