Former Virginia Governor and U.S. Senator George Allen visited Regent University’s Robertson School of Government (RSG) as this year’s guest speaker for the A. Willis Robertson Lecture on Virginia Politics. Both Allen and Robertson, the school’s namesake, devoted their lives to public service in Virginia, and Allen shared how Virginia shaped the foundation for representative government in the free world as the United State’s oldest governing body.
“In his talk, Governor Allen discussed how people can have trust in the political process and some of the things that make Virginia unique,” said Dr. Eric Patterson, RSG dean. “Virginians have a history of being first in public leadership. We have people like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, a series of people who, in many ways, put their livesw on the line in terms of public service.”
Allen’s presentation showed how Virginia’s early thought leaders shaped the landscape for future government throughout the United States. Although the Virginia General Assembly is the oldest elected representative body in the United States in continuous operation, Allen says, as governor, he led with innovation in mind, always questioning whether traditional ways of doing things were sufficient or could be improved.
“You do have to be willing to change, adapt, innovate and improve. In business, they call it continuous improvement, and that’s what I thought we needed to do as governor. You either make dust or eat dust, and I always wanted to lead,” said Allen as he showed a poster he kept in all of his cabinet secretaries’ rooms of horses racing, kicking up dust.
Since 1983, Allen served Virginia in the Virginia House of Delegates, U.S. House of Representatives, as Governor, and as a U.S. Senator from Virginia. Currently, he is president of George Allen Strategies providing counsel, consulting and strategic advice on issues including energy, technology and business development.
The RSG’s mission is built upon Virginia’s history in defining American politics by focusing on the Judeo Christian values that uphold American society. The school accomplishes this by emphasizing individual liberty, representative democracy and constitutional government, values that were important to Robertson, who served in Congress for four decades as a consistent conservative.
“We embrace people from across the political spectrum,” said Patterson. “Governor Allen is a very special person when it comes to Regent University. For instance, one of our distinguished professors, Judge Patricia West, was an appointment in his administration. She then went on to be judge here in the state.”
The RSG has more than 1,000 alumni serving around the world in positions of influence including municipal, state, and national government in addition to the military.