$250,000 gift establishes RIT’s Center for the Study of Statesmanship, Law and Liberty

Students will have opportunities to explore statesmanship, political greatness, constitutionalism

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Joseph Fornieri

Rochester Institute of Technology has created a new center with a bold mission—to study, enhance and cultivate in student leaders the “it” factor that existed in America’s greatest political statesmen—George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Hamilton, among them.

A $250,000 gift from former RIT Board of Trustees member Kraig Kayser, along with an affiliation agreement with the Alexander Hamilton Institute, has helped to establish RIT’s non-partisan Center for the Study of Statesmanship, Law and Liberty. The new center, housed within RIT’s political science department in the College of Liberal Arts, will engage students, faculty, high school students and community members in a common quest to understand statesmanship as a distinguishing quality of political greatness while also exploring its role in a democratic republic under the Constitution. It will explore such questions as: What favorable qualities or virtues exist within great statesmen? What standards should be used to measure political greatness and what particular historical models embody these standards? What conditions foster political greatness or impede it? In sum, the center will support scholarship, teaching, research and student-centered learning related to the study of statesmanship, liberty and constitutionalism as they pertain to the United States.

Joseph Fornieri, professor of political science and the new director of the center, said that “while there are many programs that teach generic leadership skills, there is a real need to consider statesmanship as a distinct and crucial kind of political leadership. In the hope of inspiring future statesmen, we will ask our students to look with a critical but not a cynical eye upon politics. Our mission is to encourage our students to understand how to move from principle to practice, and ultimately, to strive for greatness within themselves and their community.”

According to Fornieri, an annual speaker series—kicking off April 10 and 11 at RIT—will attract distinguished scholars to campus, and funds will be used to engage both college and high school students in research and develop their awareness of statesmanship, law and liberty.

In addition to heading up the center, Fornieri will release his latest book, Abraham Lincoln, Philosopher Statesman, in May, and will continue his duties as a senior fellow for the Alexander Hamilton Institute in Clinton, N.Y.

For more information about the Center for the Study of Statesmanship, Law and Liberty, including a schedule of upcoming events and speakers, go to http://rit.edu/statesmanship or contact Fornieri at 585-475-5889 or jrfgsm@rit.edu.