Former US Attorney General Visited Campus

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft shared his story of public service with students, faculty, and staff during a recent visit to the AU campus. Ashcroft arrived March 6 and held a public address. The following day he had breakfast with members of the AU community and spoke in Chapel.

“This university is a special place as far as I’m concerned,” Ashcroft stated in his opening remarks. “It addresses not only the mind and the muscle of people but it has a component to be able to ask you to be attentive to the spiritual side of your existence.”John Ashcroft in Situation Room in front of AU seal

Ashcroft continued to speak about his public service, “When people ask me what advice I could give I always say, ‘don’t be afraid of falling.’” He shared an example from the 2000 election for Missouri senator in which he lost to a deceased opponent. “It really checks your ego,” he said jokingly. However, he reiterated that the loss came with other opportunities for him to serve,  ultimately leading him to be appointed attorney general by former President Bush.

President Pistole asked Ashcroft to speak about his experience in the White House during and after the 9/11 attacks. He was on a plane on his way to Milwaukee when he received a call that there was an attack on the World Trade Center, “According to the other folks that were there, I turned around and said ‘the world will never be the same.’” He mentioned that his priorities as attorney general drastically changed after the terrorist attacks, “9/11 happened on Tuesday morning and by Saturday morning we pretty much had the Patriot Act put together.”

With several students in the audience, Ashcroft focused on the idea that anyone can make a difference. “Don’t believe people when they say, ‘it won’t make a difference,” he said. “When you don’t make a difference that doesn’t define freedom. It defines meaninglessness.” In 2001, Ashcroft created the Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative. PSN is a nationwide initiative that brings together federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officials with prosecutors and community leaders to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in a community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. For him, this initiative is one of the ways he made a difference in reducing violence. As a strong supporter of liberty, preserving American lives is of prime importance. Ashcroft concluded his remarks by saying, “You want to make big differences in your life that’s what you’re here for, and that’s why you’re studying.”

Former U.S. Attorney General, Governor and U.S. Senator John Ashcroft serves as founder and Chairman of TAG Holdings and The Ashcroft Law Firm.  In 1973, Mr. Ashcroft served as Missouri Auditor, followed by two terms as Missouri Attorney General. In 1984 he was elected governor of Missouri, and he was re-elected in 1988. During his tenure as governor, he promoted fiscally and socially conservative policies. In 1994 he was elected to the U.S. Senate, and served from January 3, 1995 to January 3, 2001. Subsequently, he was nominated by George W. Bush as U.S. attorney general [2001-2005]. He was raised in Springfield, Missouri, received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago.

Anderson University is a private, liberal arts institution in Anderson, Indiana with a mission to educate students for lives of faith and service in the church and society. Anderson University is recognized among top colleges by U.S. News and World ReportColleges of Distinction, and The Princeton Review. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, the university now offers more than 60 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in businessmusic education, and theology.

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