Newt Gingrich Visits Scripps College

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich spoke Feb. 3 at Scripps’s Garrison Theater as part of the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Public Affairs Program. The fourth speaker in the annual series, Gingrich lectured on his methods for encouraging, educating, and promoting leadership in a talk entitled “Effective Leadership for Real Change.”Many students were distressed when they heard Gingrich had been chosen as a speaker, said Maria Martin SC ‘12, because they felt the choice “wasn’t very representative of Scripps.”While much of the student body thought Gingrich would focus his speech on right-wing viewpoints, the actual presentation was not about politics, but leadership. Gingrich began by proposing that anything can be achieved by following his hierarchy of steps that “starts with values.”Gingrich said having clear values is one of the core aspects of being a leader because values guide decisions.“Unless you start at values,” he said, “you don’t know what you’re doing or why you’re doing it.”Once individual values are set, Gingrich suggested writing out a brief vision statement that helps “make the [values] come alive.” He recommended trying to envision the end result and working backwards to figure out how to accomplish that goal. Otherwise, he said, “You are always too self-limiting and don’t push yourself hard enough.”Gingrich also said that leaders must “stay in touch with reality” if they want to set up methods that actually work. He referenced Rudy Giuliani’s term as mayor of New York City and his reduction of the crime rate as an example.He concluded his speech with four ground rules of leadership: be amenable to change, enlarge a problem to make it easier to solve, focus on specific goals and delegate others, and have cheerful persistence. He explained his choice of ground rules with lessons and analogies from the past.“Anything worth doing is hard,” Gingrich said on the topic of persistence. “Anything worth doing takes time. Anything worth doing is going to frustrate you. Anything worth doing sometimes seems like it’s a bit too much.”The theater was almost at full capacity for this event. Martin thought this might be because 5-C students, who tend to fall on the liberal end of the spectrum, were interested in hearing—and perhaps responding to—Gingrich’s more right-wing opinions. She assumed “a lot of people would show up because he’s been such a big presence in the government…and a really big name to come to Claremont.”Many of the questions asked during the question and answer session had a definite political flavor to them. The questions ranged from women’s leadership to social security and Gingrich’s infamous “world citizen” quote. Martin said some of his answers definitely “seemed to polarize the audience to a certain extent.” She added that one of Gingrich’s answers to a women’s leadership question appeared a little unrehearsed for presentation at a women’s college.In addition to the address, Gingrich also participated in a book signing, book discussion, and pre-speech reception and dinner, all with students from Scripps.

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