Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (LAW ’60) received the Robert J. Drinan, S.J. Alumni Public Service Award Friday at the Georgetown Law Center Reunion Weekend. Mitchell served as chairman of peace negotiations in Northern Ireland for two-and-a-half years and was instrumental in reaching the historic peace accord signed in April, ending 30 years of partisan violence. Law Center Dean Judith Areen offered opening remarks, welcoming students, faculty, alumni, friends and members of the diplomatic corps present for the ceremony. Areen welcomed Mitchell as “a reminder that service to others has always been a core value of the university.” Outlining Mitchell’s accomplishments, University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J. called Mitchell “the epitome of much needed public service” and “incontrovertible evidence that the American Dream is alive and thriving.” In 1980, Mitchell left his post as U.S. District Judge for Maine to finish the Senate term of Edmund Muskie, who had become Secretary of State. A Democrat, Mitchell was reelected twice, and served as majority leader of the senate for his last six years in office. He was also voted the Senate’s “most respected member” six times. Mitchell was instrumental in the passage of the Clean Air Act, the nation’s first child care bill and the Americans with Disabilities Act. He also played a role in the ratification of NAFTA and the creation of the World Trade Organization. itchell announced his retirement from the Senate in 1994, professing an interest in becoming the baseball commissioner. In June of 1996 he was appointed chairman of peace negotiations in Northern Ireland at the request of President Clinton. Mitchell said that he accepted the position because “those who benefit have a responsibility to pay.” itchell said that negotiating the peace in Ireland was the “most difficult and demanding task I have ever undertaken. Almost all of my time there, the prospects looked bleak. We were almost constantly at the brink of failure. Only once were we at the brink of success.” itchell said that he had considered leaving the negotiations, but realized that he needed to stay until the conclusion when his wife had their first son in 1997. He considered what life would be like for his son had he been born in Northern Ireland, like the 61 other children born in Northern Ireland on the same day. “If in the 21st century, those 61 children are able to lead full lives, I feel fulfilled.” As a result of his work in the peace process, Mitchell was named a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize and won numerous other awards, including the Philadelphia Liberty Medal. He said that of the many awards that he has received, “none has more meaning or is more emotional than [the Drinan Medal].” Mitchell said that he has long admired Drinan as a public servant. Drinan is a professor at the law center and was a member of the House of Representatives for ten years. As a Representative from Massachusetts, Drinan chaired the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on Criminal Justice. He has privately sponsored a number of human rights missions to nations including Chile, the Philippines, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Argentina, France and Vietnam. Drinan was in attendance for the ceremony. Georgetown University Law Center is “to our knowledge, the only law school with a special award for public service,” according to Areen. As he presented the award, Father O’Donovan cited Mitchell’s “utter dedication to fostering a more just society” and said that the “implications of the Senator’s work crosses national boundaries.” O’Donovan presented a large glass bowl to Mitchell as the former Senator received the first of two standing ovations from the approximately 165 people present. Remembering his years at Georgetown Law Center, Mitchell called it “the place where my interest in public service was first aroused.” itchell offered advice directed to students, and encouraged them to “reserve a part of your energy and life to service to others.” He said that “life is an unending quest for respect, and service to others is the best route.

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