Justice's Wife Switches Focus to Education; Ex-Heritage Foundation Executive Wants to 'Restore Liberal Arts'

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 12, 2008 | Go to article overview

Justice's Wife Switches Focus to Education; Ex-Heritage Foundation Executive Wants to 'Restore Liberal Arts'


Byline: Stephanie Green, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Virginia L. Thomas, lawyer, former Heritage Foundation executive, and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has added a new hat to her portfolio: government education advocate.

This fall Mrs. Thomas, also known as Ginni, assumed the role of associate vice president of the new Washington campus of Hillsdale College, a small liberal arts school in Hillsdale, Mich., after leaving the Heritage Foundation.

This is my way of pulling away from politics. I worked for a think tank and on the Hill, but this for me is about going back to my core principles, said Mrs. Thomas, who served on the Hillsdale board for four years before begging for a staff position.

I see my mission as helping to restore liberal arts education and helping our students go deeper in their understanding of our government.

Mrs. Thomas said Hillsdale's local campus, known as the Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship, is currently on G Street in Northeast but will move to a 16,000-square-foot building at 227 Massachusetts Ave. in 2010.

In the meantime, Hillsdale is expanding its network of students and faculty to be a base of knowledge for seminars on American history and political thought, economics, literature, and other topics to interested citizens in the Washington area, said Hillsdale lecturer David J. Bobb.

Classes are available to Hillsdale students interning in Washington, congressional staffers, and the general public.

Mrs. Thomas and school officials emphasize that Hillsdale and its new campus does not accept any federal funds, and students may not accept government assistance or loans.

[The refusal of federal funds] seems countercultural in this bailout culture. Most schools set up operations in Washington to get government money, but we see ourselves as a public service. There are no strings attached, Mrs. Thomas said.

The new Washington center was mostly funded by New Jersey businessman and private investor Allan Kirby Jr., the center's namesake. School officials say they rely on private donations to meet their budgets.

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