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UNH Names Former Congressman Christopher Shays a Distinguished Fellow

Release Date:
1/31/2013 9:00 PM
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Jan. 31, 2013

Chris Shays, Features Christopher Shays

WEST HAVEN, CONN. – Former United States Congressman Christopher Shays has been named a University of New Haven Distinguished Fellow in Public Service.

A resident of the Black Rock section of Bridgeport, Shays represented the southwest region of Connecticut from 1987 to 2009 and was considered a moderate Republican who is socially progressive and fiscally conservative.

During his 21 years in Congress, Shays rose to become a senior member of the financial services, homeland security, budget and oversight, and government reform committees. Shays was consistently recognized for his bipartisan leadership and had a strong record of reaching across the aisle to work on issues.  He was the only Republican congressman from New England elected in 2006.

“Chris Shays has a wealth of knowledge and experience to offer our students and faculty,” said UNH President Steven H. Kaplan. “I am delighted that he will work across program and college lines to share his background and experience with our campus and local community. He is a remarkable individual with an s amazing commitment to public service. I am confident he will be a significant role model for our students.”

Shays’ appointment is made possible with support from Philip Bartels, chairman of the UNH Board of Governors, and his wife, Susan, longtime admirers of Congressman Shays’ work.

Shays initially will be teaching courses in the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences and in the Colleges of Business and Arts and Sciences in both public policy and public administration. He also is planning to write articles on public policy and public service.

After leaving Congress, Shays joined the board of North Highland, an international consulting firm based in Atlanta, Ga. He also was appointed co-chair of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, a bipartisan commission charged with evaluating and improving America’s wartime contracting for logistics, reconstruction and security. The commission issued its final report in the fall of 2011.

“I am grateful for this opportunity to continue my focus on public policy issues and my passion for public service,” Shays said. “And I welcome the unique opportunity to work with the administration and faculty to help make UNH’s experience-based education even more relevant and meaningful to the students and the communities they will eventually serve.”

In 2012, Shays ran for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut but lost in the Republican primary to Linda McMahon in her second effort to win this office.  The seat was won by Democratic Congressman Christopher Murphy.

Shays has served as a commissioner of UNESCO and as a trustee of the Committee on Economic Development (CED), a nonpartisan, business-led public policy organization. He also was a board member of the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focusing on campaign finance and elections, political communication and government ethics.

While in Congress, Shays co-founded and co-chaired the 9/11 Caucus, the Congressional National Service Caucus and the Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus. He also co-chaired the Congressional Arts Caucus and the Nonproliferation Task Force.

Shays pioneered bipartisan legislation on numerous issues: economic revitalization, budgetary restraint, and campaign finance reform, humane treatment of animals, the environment, energy independence and national security.  Shays also was instrumental in creating the Department of Homeland Security.

After the fall of Saddam Hussein, Shays was the first congressman to visit Iraq and returned 20 times. Often traveling outside the umbrella of the military, he worked closely with the Iraqi people and nongovernmental organizations such as Save the Children and MerciCorp. Following each trip, Shays outlined a series of observations and recommendations to the president, cabinet members, and congressional and military leaders.

Shays also worked to create the 9/11 Commission and the Iraq Study Group, and led a bipartisan coalition to get their respective recommendations implemented into law.

He is a regular participant in the bi-annual Yale CEO summits and a fellow of Yale’s Pierson College  He also participates weekly in the Richard French Live news program on the Regional News Network and as an invited guest on other regional and national news program.

He was honored with numerous national awards during his tenure, including the Environmental Champion award by the League of Conservation Voters, the Spirit of Enterprise Award by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Humane Legislator of the Year by the Humane Society of the United States, and the Best of Congress Award by Working Mother Media and Corporate Voices for Working Families.  He has received honorary doctoral degrees from both UNH and the University of Bridgeport.

A Peace Corps volunteer in Fiji from 1968 to 1970 with his wife Betsi, Shays was elected to the Connecticut State House of Representatives in 1974, where he served for 13 years until elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1987.

A graduate of Principia College in Illinois, Shays holds an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business and an M.P.A. from its Wagner School of Public Administration.

The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 on the campus of Yale University in cooperation with Northeastern University, UNH moved to its current West Haven campus in 1960. The University operates a satellite campus in Tuscany, Italy, and offers programs at several locations throughout Connecticut and in California. UNH provides its students with a unique combination of a solid liberal arts education and real-world, hands-on career and research opportunities. The University enrolls approximately 6,400 students, including nearly 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates – the majority of whom reside in University housing. Through its College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, Tagliatela College of Engineering, and College of Lifelong & eLearning, UNH offers 75 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. UNH students have access to more than 50 study abroad programs worldwide and its student-athletes compete in 16 varsity sports in the NCAA Division II’s highly competitive Northeast-10 Conference.