To honor their contributions to the legacy of former U.S. Senator Mike Mansfield and his wife, Maureen, the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at The University of Montana has named former center directors Paul Lauren and Terry Weidner the first Distinguished Mansfield Fellows.
Sen. Mansfield was one of Montana’s most admired public servants and the longest-serving majority leader in the history of the U.S. Senate. As the founding director of the Mansfield Center, Regents Professor Emeritus Lauren worked closely with the senator and Maureen to define the mission of the center in the late ’70s and early ’80s. He served as director until 1991.
Lauren said the Mansfields’ intent in having the center named in their honor was two-fold: to promote both high ethical standards in public affairs and a deeper understanding of Asia and U.S.-Asian relations, the central concerns of Sen. Mansfield’s public service and life. Lauren’s work during the early years set a standard for the center’s activities since.
Weidner, a UM professor of political science, made important contributions to the center as its longest serving director from 2003 to 2012. During his tenure, the Mansfield Center became a focal point for East Asia faculty research, curriculum, policies and collaborative relationships with leading universities in China, Japan and Korea.
Weidner was instrumental in securing external funding to launch new projects in environmental and legal areas and brought the Defense Critical Language and Culture Program to the center. He also expanded the center’s focus to include Southeast Asia, especially exchanges with Vietnam.
As Distinguished Mansfield Fellows, Lauren and Weidner will serve as advisers and help guide the center. They will give occasional public lectures, conduct research and lead periodic workshops in the tradition of the Mansfield Center in an effort to honor Sen. Mansfield and his life’s work.