John Glenn is an American hero. He's a Navy veteran who served in World War II and Korea; an astronaut who became the first American to orbit the earth (1962, Friendship 7); and an esteemed elder statesman, serving as a U.S. senator from Ohio from 1974 to 1999.
That work has come with public recognition. Glenn has received honorary degrees from various universities; been inducted into the U.S. Astronaut, International Space Hall and National Aviation halls of fame; and been awarded prestigious honors such as the Woodrow Wilson Award, Congressional Medal of Honor and National Geographic Society's Hubbard Medal.
Now, Ohio State trustees have bestowed another major honor on Glenn: the John Glenn College of Public Affairs will become the university's 15th college. (It was established as the John Glenn Institute for Public Policy and Management in 1998 and became the John Glenn School of Public Affairs in 2006. The university also houses Glenn's archives.)
"I'm very proud that my name will be associated with this," Glenn says. "I can't think of a greater honor."
“It gives us more opportunity to do an even better job with some of our young people. It’s a good step that should help attract the highest level of faculty and students.”
The school is ranked in the nation's top 30 public administrative programs; it already offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees. Now, as a college, the numbers of those programs are likely to grow, which helps fulfill the university’s land-grant mission to integrate academic units across campus around public-sector issues.
More about John Glenn: Last year, Ohio State alumnus Sander Flaum – Glenn's personal friend and chair of the Fordham Leadership Forum at the Fordham University Graduate School of Business – wrote an essay on the leadership lessons Glenn has taught him. Read an excerpt from "Buckeye Voices: Lessons from my friend John Glenn."
What have I learned from John Glenn?
- The best role models don’t talk about themselves. Senator Glenn’s listening skills are intense. When he’s talking to you, he’s really with you.
- A good mentor doesn’t hide his setbacks but shares the lessons. Almost no topic is off the table. Every road has speed bumps; the job is to find a way around them.
- Find your second or third skills. Glenn was a pilot turned astronaut, then found his place in government leadership. Next, he used his knowledge and scientific merits to challenge expectations by going back into space at age 77. He launched Ohio State’s John Glenn School of Public Affairs after that. His focus stays on moving forward and expanding his accomplishments. What other skills have you developed along the way?
- Leave a legacy of good work. John Glenn saw a need for young people to get involved in government and public policy. He learns from students and they from him.