Entrepreneur-turned-politico Ned Lamont SOM ’80, who rose to national prominence after defeating Joe Lieberman ’64 LAW ’67 in the Democratic primary in the 2006 Connecticut election for U.S. Senate, is lending his time to his alma mater this semester.
This fall, Lamont is teaching “Connecticut, Inc.,” a six-session elective course at the Yale School of Management that addresses public-policy challenges facing the state of Connecticut.
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“For me, it’s all the issues that we confronted during the Senate campaign last year on a national basis — now we’re applying them to the state of Connecticut,” Lamont said. “As the feds are asleep on a lot of these big issues, the states are being asked to step up.”
Topics to be addressed in the class include education, health care, transportation, smart growth, tax and fiscal policy, energy and the environment, said Michael Critelli, executive chairman of Pitney Bowes, Inc. and co-teacher of the course.
Critelli said Lamont is committed to involving students in public-policy dialogue.
“He’s particularly got a passion for engaging young people,” he said. “He recognizes the creative, out-of-the-box thinking that you can get from this kind of group.”
But despite his political fame and impressive business record as chairman and founder of Campus TeleVideo, which provides telecommunication services to college campuses nationwide, Lamont is no stranger to the classroom.
In the past, he has taught at a Bridgeport high school, the Harvard Institute of Politics and Central Connecticut State University.
Lamont has remained active in the University community since graduating from the School of Management. In January, he delivered the keynote address at a Yale Political Union debate on the resolution, “Resolved: Congress should force the president to withdraw from Iraq.”
Despite Lamont’s political celebrity, many students cited other reasons for taking the class.
One student, Jennifer Kasker SOM ’08, said the topics addressed in the course are relevant to all states and to the United States as a whole, even though the class specifically focuses on Connecticut.
David Liu SOM ’08 said he is taking the class because he hopes to learn from Lamont how government, business and not-for-profit organizations interact to achieve common goals.
“When you bring in practitioners with strong and differing opinions, the result is usually a stimulating conversation and, occasionally, actionable solutions,” Liu said.
Indeed, the course content draws on guest speakers, ranging from the senior vice president of global research and development at Pfizer Corporation to a former assistant secretary of transportation policy in the Bush administration.
Lamont ran for the Senate last year on an anti-war platform, challenging the incumbent Lieberman, who has held his Senate seat since 1988, for the Democratic nomination.
Lamont beat Lieberman in the Democratic primary, but Lieberman won the general election after running as an independent candidate.
But Martha Grant ’09 said she does not consider Lamont’s public record of political partisanship to be problematic in his role as an educator.
“Every professor has some political leaning, and as long as they’re upfront about their political leanings, then there’s no problem with them teaching,” she said.
Alexander Martone ’10, chief of staff of the YPU’s Party of the Left, said he thinks Lamont is qualified because of his business experience, not his political record.
“I like the idea of bringing in people who have practical experience,” Martone said. “I don’t think it’s an overtly political move by the University. If he was teaching a class on the Democratic Party, it might be different.”
Lamont has endorsed Connecticut’s senior senator, Chris Dodd, in the 2008 presidential election.