Explaining the Schultz Fellowship

By Joe Berger ’20

The Schultz Fellowship is a bi-partisan, student-led club named after George P. Schultz, who graduated from Loomis Chaffee in 1938 and served as President Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State from 1982 until 1989, among other high level positions he has held in government during his long and distinguished career.  Secretary Shultz is a role model for statesmanship and diplomacy, and following his lead, the club meets regularly to discuss politics and current events with the aim to foster understanding about the U.S. political system and America’s place in the world.  When former Secretary Schultz came to speak on campus last October, the members of the Schultz Fellowship were lucky enough to speak with him in a private session after the main presentation.

     So how is this group formed, and what does it do for Loomis? I interviewed history teacher, Norton Center Director, and baseball coach Mr. Eric Laforest, who is the faculty advisor for the Schultz Fellowship, to find out more about this organization.

     First of all, the Fellowship’s members do not actually apply for the position so much as they are “tapped,” based on their interest in politics and other criteria such as seniority — typically only juniors and seniors are selected to participate. Most importantly, the group is formed around political diversity. As Mr. Laforest informed me, the makeup of the group includes “students who represent diverse political views,” either “vocal conservatives or vocal liberals,” and above all, “independent thinkers.”

     Speaking about the overall effectiveness of the Fellowship, Mr. Laforest reported that the group does a good job “picking topics that get people thinking” and allows people “who are politically at odds with each other to sit down and have a conversation” in a civil manner. 

     That sounds very appealing, especially the “civil” part! I think the rest of us Loomis students should consider having our own versions of these political conversations whether we are members of the Schultz Fellowship or not. Many of us feel passionately about issues in society, and talking about them — even with peers who disagree — help us clarify our ideas. Someday we will be leaders, like Secretary Schultz, and it is up to us to decide whether we will inherit the problems of our parents’ generation, or change them!