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LSU alumnus and famed political consultant James Carville speaks in front of a packed house at the Manship School of Mass Communication’s Holliday Forum.

James Carville: LSU Students Living in “Glory Days”

It’s not uncommon for alumni to return to their alma mater to reminisce about the glory days and remark about how campus has changed since their time.

But for LSU, alumnus James Carville believes those days are here and now.

“Ya’ll are living in the glory days now,” the famed political strategist said to a full house at the Manship School of Mass Communication’s Holliday Forum. “You are here at the very finest moments of this university.”

Carville visited campus on Friday, April 24, to discuss the state of LSU and Louisiana in general, along with his new book “40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation.” The visit was set up by the Manship School’s Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs.

“The people of Louisiana should take pride in this place,” he said. “The graduation rates, the entrance requirements have never been higher. In the entire history of this university, since 1860, the students we have here in 2009 are the best we’ve ever had.”

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"I believe LSU is the most indispensable state university in the United States. No other state has the intellectual capital invested in a place that Louisiana has in LSU." -- James Carville

Carville graduated from LSU in 1970 and the LSU Law School in 1973. After a brief stint practicing law, he launched a very successful political consulting career in the 1980s. Notable victories include Frank Lautenberg’s senatorial campaign; Sen. Harris Wofford’s come-back senatorial campaign; and Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential campaign. He has since become one of America’s most famous political personalities, serving as a panelist on the CNN political debate show “Crossfire” from 2002-2005 and appearing on various networks, commercials and even the feature film “Old School.”

He’s traveled the world and helped guide the careers of some of the most powerful men in the country, but Carville stressed that he has always known where his heart lies.

“I’ve never considered myself anything but a Louisianan,” he said.

Carville and his wife, former political strategist Mary Matalin, currently live in New Orleans with their two daughters. He stressed that he hopes that his girls become the kind of students he sees at LSU now.

“You are doing things that have never been done here before because you’re holding up your end of the bargain,” Carville told students.

He added that with its recent placement in the top tier of the U.S. News & World Report “America’s Best Colleges” rankings, LSU has a role unique to its home state.

“I believe LSU is the most indispensable state university in the United States,” he said. “No other state has the intellectual capital invested in a place that Louisiana has in LSU.”

Manship School Dean John Maxwell Hamilton thanked Carville for his visit and stressed to the students in attendance that voices like Carville’s are vital to the future of the university.

“There are a lot of people who say they care about LSU,” he said. “But James knows how vital LSU is to this state and your future. He has always been a powerful voice on our behalf.”

For Carville, LSU will always feel like home.

“Every time I come here it moves me,” he said. “You think the feeling will go away, but it never does. I never was one for the good ol’ days, but for these kids now, these are them, at this place.”

Billy Gomila | Writer | Office of Communications & University Relations
April 2009