Former presidential candidate and congressman Dr. Ron Paul ’57 returned to campus on September 29 to deliver the annual Constitution Day lecture, which was sponsored by The Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College, the Political Science Department, and the Alumni Office. During Paul’s three-day visit over Homecoming Weekend, he also met with students and celebrated the 100th anniversary of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, of which he was a member.
Paul last spoke at Gettysburg in 2008 to a capacity crowd at the Majestic Theater. This year, he delivered his lecture, called “Try Liberty for a Change,” to another full and energetic audience in the College Union Building ballroom, followed by a question and answer session. Over 800 members of the College and greater Gettysburg community attended the discussion, which was moderated by political science Prof. Kenneth Mott.
"It is like coming back home"- Congressmen Paul, on his return to campus #RonPaulGburg— Eisenhower Institute (@eigbc) September 29, 2016
“I want to get people interested enough to look at a message that I’ve worked on for a long time,” he said. “Politicians are always talking about change but nothing ever really changes.”
Recalling how one Gettysburg professor sparked his interest, Paul said he hopes his talk motivates people to become more inquisitive in their own search for knowledge.
“I remember I had a professor by the name of Robert Bloom, and about three or four years after I was out of college, I remember writing to him and asking for some books to read because I had become fascinated in learning more about history,” Paul said. “I remember him acknowledging this, and he sent me back some suggestions. You don't finish your education when you walk out the door.”
On the Friday following the lecture, Paul visited Prof. Bruce Larson’s public policy class and spoke with several student groups, including Fielding and Undergraduate Fellows from the Eisenhower Institute, and
The Young Americans for Liberty, which is a national student organization that was founded after, and inspired in part by, Paul’s presidential campaign in 2008.
Emily Keyser’19, an economics and public policy double major and the public relations chair of the Gettysburg College Democrats, said she appreciated hearing Paul’s perspective.
“I like hearing different sides of political issues, especially since [Paul] is a libertarian,” said Keyser. “Libertarians have some ideals that align with both the Republican and Democratic parties. It’s healthy to disagree with people in politics, and it was interesting and refreshing to hear his viewpoint."
On campus, Paul was joined by his wife, Carolyn, whom he married during his senior year at Gettysburg. The couple lived in an apartment on Carlisle Street, and Carolyn worked as a faculty assistant in Glatfelter Hall while Paul finished his senior year before attending medical school at Duke University. At Gettysburg, Paul was a biology major, a member of the swimming and track teams, and held various positions in his fraternity and on campus (including manager of the Bullet Hole).
After graduating from the Duke University School of Medicine in 1961, he served as a flight surgeon in the United States Air Force and started his own medical practice in Texas in 1968 before entering politics. Paul sought the 2008 and 2012 Republican presidential nomination and was the Libertarian candidate on the national ballot in 1988. He also served 12 terms in Congress (R-Tex.).