With its doors now open, the goal of the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship is to promote international diplomacy and conflict resolution.
The center, which opened Thursday, was inspired by Henry Clay, a 19th century Lexington farmer and thoroughbred owner, who was elected U.S. senator and known as the Great Compromiser.
“We are making no secret of aspirations for the center to become a resource center for the application and craft of statesmanship” on a global basis, says Robert N. Clay, co-chairman of the board for the center.
The center’s first objective is to host a one-week annual short course for 50 college juniors, representing each of the 50 states, to learn the statesmanship skills embodied by Clay’s life. Students will be selected by U.S. senators from their state.
“Our aim is to bring people from across the country together to get that sense of the importance of statesmanship,” says Carey Cavanaugh, director of The Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky.
A historic ideal of the United States has been to pursue statesmanship, mediation and compromise in conflicts, says Cavanaugh, a former U.S. ambassador and peace negotiator in several former states of the Soviet Union.
“Henry Clay’s approach was finding a middle ground. Not the idea that there was a right way or a wrong way, but there’s a mutual way,” Cavanaugh says.
With political opinion harshly polarized, “Today is the right time for this kind of mission,” he says.
Cavanaugh will help develop curriculum for the short course.
The first class will be launched in July 2008. The cost of each short course will be slightly over $200,000, says D.G. Van Clief Jr., board president, adding that the center hopes to raise enough money to underwrite costs of the first three annual classes.
The center will work in partnership with the UK Patterson School and the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration, Transylvania University; and the Kentucky Society of Washington, D.C.
Heading the center’s national advisory committee will be Sandra Day O’Connor, former associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and Nancy Kassenbaum Baker, former U.S. senator from Kansas.
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