After Former U.S. Rep. Sander Levin agreed to give documents from his time in the House of Representatives to the Bentley Historical Library’s archives, the Ford School of Public Policy hosted the Congressman and several members of his family on Monday evening to celebrate his history in public service.
Levin represented Michigan’s 17th District from 1983-1993, 12th District from 1993-2013 and 9th District from 2013-2019. He was chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee in 2010, helped to pass the Affordable Care Act and played a pivotal role in shaping economic policy. Levin is currently working as a professor of practice and Distinguished Policymaker in Residence at the School of Public Policy.
According to Terrence McDonald, director of the Bentley Historical Library, the library’s archives include papers from former U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-District 12, former U.S. Senator Carl Levin, D-Mich., — Sander Levin’s brother — as well as several former governors of the state of Michigan.
Materials stored in the Bentley Historical Library’s archives are held in bankers boxes, each of which measures out to one foot. Sander Levin’s documents equate to over 700 feet, indicating the breadth of material to be collected and accessible to the public for future research in approximately one year.
In an interview with The Daily, McDonald explained the process behind bringing Sander Levin’s documents to the collections.
“We try to contact members of the Michigan congressional delegation, governor of the state, (and) senators the year before or so their terms are coming to an end,” McDonald said. “We want to build — and we have — a substantial collection of all the officeholders’ (documents) in the state.”
After a brief reception in Weill Hall, McDonald provided opening remarks in the Vandenberg Room, introducing community members to speak on Sander Levin’s history in public service. University President Mark Schlissel praised the Bentley Historical Library and the opportunities for scholarship and research Sander Levin’s papers would provide.
“I’d especially like to thank Congressman Sander Levin for his service to the people of Michigan and to our nation,” Schlissel said. “That service will live on in perpetuity as he’s generously made his papers available to students, faculty and scholars by donating them of course to the Bentley Historical Library. There they can enlighten and encourage and inspire all those who read them and use them.”
Public Policy Dean Michael Barr reflected on his experiences with Sander Levin when they both held positions in public service.
“It’s been a real honor to have had a chance to work with him when I was in the government and to see first hand the extraordinary work that he did in the halls of Congress fighting for working people, fighting for families throughout his career,” Barr said.
Barr also explained students and staff appreciate the work Sander Levin has been doing at the Public Policy School. Sander Levin currently co-teaches a class with former Public Policy Dean Susan Collins titled “Policy Design, Strategy and Practice” with a particular focus on trade and unemployment policy.
Taubman and LSA sophomore Jared Freeman attended the event because of his family’s connection to the Levin family. Freeman said he enjoyed hearing how the University is using Levin’s experiences to serve students on campus.
“It was cool to hear the perspective on how Sandy can apply his actual experiences battling different legislation in Congress to kind of apply that to his teaching and to the students taking his class,” Freeman said.
At the event, McDonald introduced Sen. Carl Levin to speak about his brother. The two brothers are the longest serving pair of siblings in congressional history. Carl Levin described his brother’s work in public service before being elected to Congress, focusing on the experience the archives will show.
“There’s a goldmine in his archives,” Carl Levin said. “It’s a goldmine of intelligence, of learning, of the lessons of experience from 36 years in the House, the lessons of learning how to fight … for average people who need fighters. And Sandy’s always been there.”
McDonald also moderated a brief conversation on policymaking with Sander Levin. Sander Levin expressed gratitude for the opportunity to teach at the Public Policy School.
“Carl and I faced this issue as we were retiring: what we would do next,” Sander Levin said. “This University…has provided us with a chance to carry on, and what more could we do … than to be with the next generation?”
Sander Levin ultimately explained his hope that those who interact with the collections will be able to learn from his Congressional work.