April 19, 2012 | 3:10 p.m.
By Nicole Finsaas '14
On April 16, Tim and Mary Pawlenty visited Bethel University to talk politics, faith, and life after the campaign. The event was arranged by the Bethel chapter of College Republicans, led by President Andrew Baker ’12, and attracted students, faculty, and staff who filled the lower level of the Underground. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty shared about his humble beginnings, his eight years as governor, and his recent presidential run. Mary Pawlenty shared about her former roles as a law student, a judge, and the First Lady of Minnesota. “I invited the Pawlentys to speak to our club, and the greater Bethel community, due to their high level of influence in the political arena,” says Baker. “It’s beneficial for Bethel students to see how successful political figures can choose to live out their faith in politics.”
Mary Pawlenty attended Bethel University for her undergraduate degree in political science, graduating in 1983. “Life is still going to take all kinds of twists and turns,” she told Bethel students, “and being ready for that and having a foundation for that is essential. And that of course is what Bethel University is all about—preparing you to face all of life’s challenges and to do your very best to give back.” After four years at Bethel, Mary Pawlenty went on to law school, where she met her husband.
Tim Pawlenty said he felt blessed to be a guest on Bethel’s campus. “I want to congratulate Bethel University on this values-based, beautiful institution,” he said. “Because of the quality of the curriculum, the quality of the college, but also the fact that this institution still stands for important values … I hope it also gives you a sense of pride to be connected to such a fine university.”
Students were fascinated to hear about the Pawlentys’ lifelong political engagement, and during a question and answer exchange, asked about Tim Pawlenty’s view on the Minnesota economy, education, suggestions for student political involvement, and the Vikings stadium. Pawlenty was thoughtful, engaging, and humorous. He made no mention of his future political plans.