Celebrating public service and volunteerism: The Gephardt Institute announces its inaugural event

The Gephardt Institute for Public Service at Washington University will hold its inaugural event on Mon., Sept. 19, with remarks by former U.S. Representative Richard A. Gephardt, a keynote lecture by internationally renowned economist Hernando de Soto, and a reception. The events begin at 4 p.m. in Graham Chapel, on the Hilltop campus. It is free and open to the public.

Hernando De Soto
Hernando De Soto

The Gephardt Institute is a nonpartisan entity created to encourage citizens, especially students and older persons, to become involved in public service through programs and events throughout the community, the nation and the world.

“This institute will endeavor to focus all the enormous capabilities of Washington University on the task of inspiring young and older citizens to the noble and needed work of public service,” Gephardt said. “St. Louis, America and the world need gifted public citizens as never before, and I know the Institute will succeed in motivating and matching many of them to the challenges ahead.”

Gephardt chose Hernando de Soto for the keynote address because de Soto shines as a example of what the institute stands for.

De Soto is credited with spurring rural land reforms in countries throughout the world, including ongoing programs in South Africa and China. His ideas for helping the poor create capital have been championed by the World Bank and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The Economist ranks his Institute for Liberty and Democracy as one of the two most important think tanks in the world. Time magazine included him in its “Time 100” list of the most powerful and influential people in the world for 2004, and the German development publication, Entwicklung und Zusammenarbeit, called de Soto one of the most important development theoreticians of the last millennium. His book, The Mystery of Capital, made Fortune’s “75 Smartest Books We Know,” and Forbes magazine included him among 15 innovators “who will reinvent your future.”

On the world stage, de Soto participates in several of the major economic organizations, including the World Commission on the Global Dimension of Globalization, the United Nations Development Programme Task Force to Examine Private Resources for Development, and the Research Advisory Council of The Global Markets Institute at Goldman Sachs.

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton will introduce the program, followed by remarks by Gephardt.

The Gephardt Institute was created with a major gift from the former Congressman from Missouri. Its central mission is to focus attention on the value and importance of public service — both volunteers and career employees — in the life of a democracy.

Through workshops, lectures, and occasional conferences, the Institute will provide information about both public service and significant public issues. It will provide services and programs designed to promote informed civic engagement, participation, and public service. It will partner with schools and service programs on campus, and a diverse group of organizations beyond, to foster in students and older individuals the belief in contributing to society, either through volunteering or by choosing careers in the public arena.

For more information about the event or the Institute, call 314-935-8628 or visit the Web site at http://www.gephardtinstitute.wustl.edu.