April 07, 2004

Illinois House Speaker to share insights

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. - - Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, one of the most recognized and influential public officials in Illinois political history, presents his insights in a forum at Southern Illinois University Carbondale next week.

The lecture is free and open to the public.Madigan will speak at 4 p.m. Monday, April 12, in Student Center Ballroom D. The SIUC Public Policy Institute is sponsoring his visit, part of the Institute's "What I Have Learned" series.

Madigan, 61, has presided over the Illinois House of Representatives as its Speaker for all but two of the last 20 years. A state legislator since 1971, Madigan has been House Speaker under four Illinois governors.

Interim Public Policy Institute Director Mike Lawrence is pleased that Madigan accepted his invitation to speak. Madigan will also talk to Lawrence's class, American Politics and the Mass Media, on Tuesday, April 13, and participate in a luncheon with a group of students and faculty.

Madigan is "one of the most influential public officials in the history of our state," said Lawrence. "He wields a lot of influence as the Speaker, and he has been a part of almost every major initiative we have seen in this state in the last quarter century."

Madigan served as a delegate to the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention. Illinois Issues magazine named Madigan one of the 10 most outstanding Illinoisans of the past decade, and the Chicago Sun-Times twice rated him among the state's best legislators.

Lawrence said Madigan is "one of the most fascinating politicians" he has known.

"I don't know any public official who works harder than Mike Madigan. He is very forthright in dealing with people," said Lawrence, whose interactions with Madigan were both as a journalist and as press secretary to former Gov. Jim Edgar.

"If Mike Madigan said he would be with you on an issue, you could count on it," said Lawrence. "But if he could not be with you on an issue, he would tell you. You didn't have to worry about whether he was going to keep his word. He's good to his word."

Madigan played a major role in the late Paul Simon's successful U.S. Senate campaign in 1984. That race with three-term incumbent Republican Charles H. Percy was one of the most closely contested Senate races in state history. After retiring from the Senate, Simon founded and directed the Public Policy Institute.

"He and Paul had an excellent relationship," said Lawrence. "I believe he and I have enjoyed a good relationship through the years. I am just very pleased that he accepted this year."

The "What I Have Learned" lecture series allows speakers flexibility on what they want to discuss. Series participants have had successes in various walks of life. Illinois State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, the first woman to be re-elected to a statewide office, presented a lecture in October.

Madigan plans to devote the majority of his presentation to answering audience questions, Lawrence said.

"He's a student of government. He's one of the hardest-working public officials I have ever encountered, and I think he will provide excellent insights into what makes things happen and not happen at the state level in Illinois," said Lawrence.

Madigan's public appearances outside of Chicago and Springfield are infrequent, said Lawrence.

"He typically does not do these kinds of presentations, although he has spoken to college classes from time to time. This is a infrequent type of presentation for him," said Lawrence.

A practicing attorney, Madigan is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Loyola University School of Law.

Engaging students with broad learning opportunities is among the goals of Southern@150, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.

For more information on Madigan's visit, contact Public Policy Institute Development Director Matt Baughman at 618/453-4001.