Obey Resource Center: Grand Opening

Source: Wausau Daily Herald, Keith Uhlig

Educators are getting ready for the grand opening of a new resource center that will be named after retired Wausau congressman Dave Obey.

The grand opening of the David R. Obey Civic Resource Center will be held Sept. 3 in the UW Center for Civic Engagement. The center will be run under the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service.

It will serve as conduit for local students and others to access more than two million pages of Obey’s congressional notes and documents, which he donated to the Wisconsin Historical Society. But the center’s main purpose will be to teach and encourage young leaders to get involved in civic life, one of Obey’s passions in retirement.

Having the center on the University of Wisconsin Marathon County campus is apt, Obey said, because he attended the school in the late 1950s, and what he learned there set him on a course to become a political leader at the national level. He served as Democratic congressman for Wisconsin’s seventh district for 42 years.

“That university totally changed my life, and it would be wonderful if this institute can help new students experience those same life-changing events that I did,” Obey said.

Obey talked about how professors at UWMC discussed world events such as the launch of Sputnik and the 1957 war in the Middle East, firing his imagination and drive to enter politics.

Eric Giordano, the director of WIPPS, said the center will be strictly nonpartisan in its programming, which will be designed to help young people get engaged in their communities, the nation and the world around them. The center will teach leadership classes, shepherd an internship program and create a mentorship-style project that will link college students with high schoolers, among other programs.

The grand opening ceremony will feature national political figures from both sides of the aisle, including Obey, his successor, Republican Congressman Sean Duffy, Republican Congressman Tom Petri, who represents Wisconsin’s sixth district, and Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin.