Howard Dean on Meet the Press

Long considered one of the most knowledgeable figures on the topic of health care, Howard Dean ’71 has recently been the subject of a number of profiles, as debate on a “public option” continues.

Dean will be teaching a residential college seminar this semester, “Understanding Politics and Politicians,” with his friend and fellow Piersonite, organizational psychologist David Berg ’71 GRD ’72. He spoke with the News on Friday about health care, his course and why he wants to teach at Yale.

Q: How has your role in the health care reform debate changed since you decided to teach at Yale early this year?

A: I don’t know that it has changed all that much. Health care reform is something I have been interested and involved in for a long time — over 30 years.

Q: Are you surprised by how long it is taking for a bill to move through Congress?

A: I am not surprised. My original prediction, one I still think is true now, is that I am confident the President will sign health care reform into law in November.

Q: Will you incorporate any of the ongoing health care debate into your course?

A: The course has little to do with health care, it has to do with personal involvement in politics. It will be more about the students, and less about me. We are going to focus, on media, money, grassroots organizing, but I don’t think we’ll talk about health care much. Maybe some other time.

Q: How are the preparations for your course going? Did anything surprise you along the way?

A: I have been preparing over the summer and what surprised me was how much work this is. My co-teacher, David Berg, has been doing this for 30 years. I have been on college campuses, but I haven’t done anything like this. Preparing for a weekly class is a lot of work.

Q: What are you looking forward to about teaching?

A: I am excited about individuals taking stock in and talking about the political process, and I’m excited to hear why the students are interested in politics.

Q: You said in January that you plan to attend all of the class meetings. Is that still the case?

A: As of now, there is one trip I have to make [that would cause me to miss a class], but we are talking about doubling up one other night. I feel it is important that I be there.

Check out our earlier story on Dean from before his seminar was officially selected.

(Photo: Getty Images)