Retired Congressman Elton Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, will lead a $3 million fundraising campaign for the newly established Gallegly Center for Public Service and Civic Engagement at California Lutheran University.
During a telephone chat with the Business Times, Gallegly said he hopes to forge close ties between the Thousand Oaks public policy center and the nearby Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in Simi Valley.
“It’s got enormous potential,” said Gallegly. He added that “synergy with the Reagan library is key. That’s very important to me.”
CLU announced March 4 that the Elton and Janice Gallegly Center for Public Service and Civic Engagement will include undergraduate and graduate degree programs to prepare students for careers in public service. Gallegly, who served 13 terms in the House of Representatives, will loan his personal and official archives to the center and donate his desk and office furnishings.
CLU said the graduate program will be part of the university’s master’s degree program in public policy and administration. The center will be nonpartisan, CLU said in a statement, and “will provide students with extensive experiential learning opportunities at the local, state and national levels.”
CLU said Master’s in Public Policy Director David Powell and faculty members Haco Hoang and Herb Gooch will lead the center and are already involved in designing the curriculum. The first two Gallegly Center Fellows are seniors Nina Kuzniak, a political science and global studies major from Las Vegas, and Zachary Zabo, a political science and criminal justice major from Louisville, Ky.
Gallegly credited Gooch, perhaps the best known academic expert on politics and public policy in the tri-county region, with “playing a major role” in his decision to locate the archives and center at CLU.
Gallegly, a Simi Valley resident and former small-business owner, began a long career as an elected official when he won a seat at the Simi Valley City Council in 1979. He was a leading advocate for smaller government and lower taxes and was personally close to the Reagan family.
But he also was known for bipartisan efforts, including a decade-long effort with U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, to secure funding for rebuilding the Rice Avenue interchange on Highway 101.
Future plans for the center include providing student scholarships and public affairs research grants, bringing in visiting scholars and speakers, and hosting forums on public service highlighting leadership and civic engagement. Gallegly said he hoped the center would help future public servants learn about the importance of fostering a vibrant private economy.
“I’m still at heart a very private-sector guy,” he said.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was updated at 6 p.m. with quotes from Gallegly and more information about the center.]