Alaska editorial: Academia could benefit from our ex-governors

Posted: Friday, December 15, 2006

This editorial appeared in The Voice of the Times:

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Now that his four years as Alaska's governor are behind him, Frank Murkowski should return to the college classroom - not as a student, but as a lecturer on government in general and his years in office in particular.

We've said this many times about other governors over the years, going so far as to assert that a requirement of serving as governor should be a commitment to spend at least one semester teaching a course on what the real world of political leadership is all about.

We wanted Bill Egan to do that. We wanted Keith Miller to do that. We wanted Bill Sheffield to do that. We wanted Jay Hammond to do that. We wanted Steve Cowper to do that. We wanted Tony Knowles to do that. So far as we know, only Wally Hickel took a lectern before college students - and our recollection is that it was not for a full semester of classroom work.

Even so, Hickel did the right thing.

Murkowski, often accused by his critics of doing the wrong thing, could step up and volunteer to meet with students at the Anchorage or Fairbanks campuses of the state university system. If neither UAF nor UAA is interested and unable to make a teaching position available, surely Alaska Pacific University would leap at the opportunity to offer a fresh-from-office governor to its government or political science students.

Yes, this would impose on the former governor's time - at a period in his life when he probably is convinced he has paid his dues, and would like now to travel, go duck hunting and relax with his grandchildren.

But Murkowski, like those who served before him in the governor's office, possesses a unique perspective on what is involved in being Alaska's chief executive, and the bruises and bumps that come with dealing with a reluctant Legislature and the critics in the press and public. His experiences are valuable, too precious to keep to himself.

All governors, in our view, should be required to share their experiences with college students who soon will be stepping into leadership roles in the state.

There's no law that says any ex-governor has to do this. But it wouldn't hurt to make it a post-election requirement.

Absent any statute that makes this mandatory, we still would like to see one of our universities extend an invitation to Murkowski to teach a class.

The same invitation could be extended to Sarah Palin, four years or eight years from now when her time in the governor's office has run its course.

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