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Last modified: Thursday, February 28, 2008

Media advisory: Indiana University professor available to speak about William F. Buckley Jr.

Feb. 28, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University faculty member Leslie Lenkowsky is available to speak with news media about William F. Buckley Jr., the intellectual leader of the modern U.S. conservative movement, who died Wednesday.

Lenkowsky is director of graduate programs for philanthropic studies at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. He also is professor of public affairs and philanthropic studies in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IU Bloomington.

Leslie Lenkowsky

Leslie Lenkowsky

He knew and worked closely with Buckley starting in the 1970s, when Lenkowsky directed the Smith Richardson Foundation in New York City, and later when president of the Hudson Institute and chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service. He said Buckley, unusual among conservatives, was a key and longtime supporter of the concept of national service for young people.

"When Bill ran for Mayor of NYC in the 1960s," Lenkowsky said, "one of the ideas he advanced (later in two books, Four Reforms and Gratitude) was that young people should be expected to give a year or two of service to their country. This was one of the rare conservative endorsements of national service, an idea to which I was also attached, eventually winding up heading the Corporation for National and Community Service in George W. Bush's administration.

"Bill's ideas also filtered into President Bush's 2002 call (in which I played a role) on all Americans to volunteer for 4,000 hours in their lifetimes (This is known generally as 'the call to service' and was the conclusion of the State of the Union in which the president talked about the axis of evil). I arranged for Bill to meet with White House staffers to discuss these ideas. While Bill had some reservations about AmeriCorps, the principal federal national service program, he and I used to commiserate about the fact that so few conservatives seemed to understand the value of encouraging young people to express 'gratitude' for the blessings of liberty they enjoyed in this country."

Lenkowsky said Buckley agreed with the purpose of the Corporation for National and Community Service's AmeriCorps program, but he didn't believe young people should receive a stipend for volunteering.

Lenkowsky can be reached at the Center for Philanthropy at IUPUI, 317-278-8925, or at