The 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act is the focus of a Constitution Day event in the Live Oak Ballroom on the main campus of the University of Central Florida from 10 a.m. to noon Thursday, Sept. 17.
More than 100 high school students taking advanced placement government classes at Harmony and Celebration high schools will attend the event, which is open to all UCF students.
Constitution Day is national holiday that celebrates the U.S. Constitution. It is observed on Sept. 17, the anniversary of the Constitutional Convention’s final meeting when the Constitution was signed.
This year’s event is sponsored by the The Lou Frey Institute at UCF, the vice provost’s office and the dean’s office for Teaching and Learning, and the College of Undergraduate Studies. The political science department also assisted.
Elizabeth Dooley, vice provost for Teaching and Learning and dean of the College of Undergraduate Studies, will welcome the group and introduce the featured speakers, former congressmen Gil Gutknecht and Richard Stallings. They will discuss the importance of voting. Afterward they will form a panel that will include Jonathan Knuckey, research director and an associate professor for the political science department. Students will have a chance to ask the panelists questions before lunch.
Gutknecht and Stallings are part of the Association of Former Members of Congress ‘Congress to Campus’ program, where bipartisan teams visit college campuses across the country to teach our system of government to students and to discuss the importance of participation in our democracy.
Gutknecht served in the Minnesota House of Representatives before serving 12 years in the U.S. House. He served as vice chair of the House Science Committee, where he was involved with federal research into new technologies. He also served as chairman of an agricultural subcommittee that oversaw renewable energy programs.
Gutknecht won numerous awards for his fiscal conservatism during his time in office. He was voted a Watchdog of the Treasury and served on the House Budget Committee. During his tenure on that Committee, the federal budget was balanced and nearly half a trillion dollars worth of federal debt was paid off.
Stallings was elected in 1984 to represent Idaho’s 2nd congressional district of Idaho and served through 1990. He served on a variety of committees from agriculture to space. In 1992, President Bill Clinton named Stallings the U.S. nuclear waste negotiator. In 1995 he returned home and served on the Pocatello City Council and executive director of the Pocatello Neighborhood Housing Services.