BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Lee H. Hamilton, director of the Indiana University Center on Congress, received the 2014 Distinguished Service Award of the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress at the group’s 44th annual meeting today in Washington, D.C.
"What makes Lee Hamilton so deserving of our award is not only his work when he was in office, but also his tremendous involvement in so many commissions and other service activities since he retired from Congress," said Peter M. Weichlein, CEO of the association.
Hamilton represented Indiana as a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1965 to 1999, establishing himself as a leading figure on foreign policy, intelligence and national security. His chairmanships included the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran. He also was chairman of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress and worked to promote integrity and efficiency in the institution.
Upon leaving Congress, he founded the Center on Congress at IU Bloomington to help improve the public's knowledge of Congress and to encourage informed and engaged citizenship. From 1999 through 2010 he was president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, where scholars, policymakers and business leaders engage in comprehensive and nonpartisan dialogue on public policy issues.
As a private citizen, Hamilton has been at the center of efforts to address some of our nation’s highest-profile homeland security and foreign policy challenges. He served as vice chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (known as the 9/11 Commission), which issued its report in 2004. He was co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group, which in 2006 made recommendations on U.S. policy options in Iraq. Currently he is co-chairman of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Homeland Security Project, which is a successor to the 9/11 Commission that develops solutions to emerging threats.
The Association of Former Members of Congress is a non-profit organization that focuses on bipartisanship, dialogue and strengthening representative democracy domestically and abroad. In its award citation, it said of Hamilton, "He is a man of great intelligence, foreign policy credentials, and dedication to serving the people of Indiana and all Americans. He is considered one of the most influential former Members of Congress."
Former Rep. Barbara Kennelly, D-Conn., the association's newly elected president, said, "We are thrilled to present Lee with this award recognizing his distinguished service in Congress and his subsequent active involvement in so many crucial endeavors to keep our country safe in the post 9/11 world."
Recipients of the Distinguished Service Award in recent years include former representative and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, R-Ill.; former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.; and former Sen. John Warner, R-Va.
In addition to leading the Center on Congress, Hamilton serves Indiana University as a Professor of Practice in the School for Public and Environmental Affairs, a Distinguished Scholar in the School of Global and International Studies and co-chairman of IU’s International Engagement Advisory Board.
He is the author of three books: "How Congress Works and Why You Should Care"; "Strengthening Congress"; and "A Creative Tension: The Foreign Policy Roles of the President and Congress." He co-authored with former Gov. Thomas Kean "Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission." He writes twice-monthly commentaries about Congress and what individuals can do to make representative democracy work better. A leader in the growing national movement to expand and improve civic education, he serves as a co-chairman of the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools.
Hamilton was born in 1931 in Daytona Beach, Fla. His family relocated to Tennessee and then Evansville, Ind. He graduated from DePauw University and Indiana University law school. A former high school and college basketball star, he was inducted into the Indiana basketball Hall of Fame in 1982. Before his 1964 election to Congress, he practiced law in Chicago and Columbus, Ind.
About the center
The Center on Congress is a nonpartisan educational institution which developed out of Lee Hamilton's recognition during his 34 years in the U.S. House of Representatives that Americans should be more familiar with Congress’ strengths and weaknesses, its role in our system of government, and its impact on the lives of ordinary people every day.
The center offers an extensive array of civic education programs, projects and resources to foster an informed electorate that understands our system of government and participates in civic life. These include: Web-based, interactive modules and other online learning tools in English and Spanish; print publications; commentaries for newspapers; video and television in the classroom resources; survey research; teacher awards; and seminars, conferences and a lecture series.