The University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) will host U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., at a special event honoring the late U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson. The inaugural Isakson Symposium on Political Civility will take place on Nov. 10, 2023, at 10 a.m. in the University of Georgia Chapel.
Isakson’s personal motto was, “There are only two kinds of people in the world: friends and future friends.” This event will pay tribute to his legacy and inspire future leaders to consider the late senator’s approach of listening respectfully to others in the search for common ground.
“Senator Isakson represented the very best of public service during his more than 40 years in elected office, and a hallmark of his career was his ability to get results by reaching across the aisle and engaging in civil discourse,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “I am excited for UGA to launch the Johnny Isakson Symposium on Political Civility in hopes that future leaders will learn from and carry on Senator Isakson’s valuable legacy.”
The Isakson Symposium on Political Civility highlights the role that civil discourse plays in building trust and goodwill in representative government. Sens. McConnell and Manchin were selected as the inaugural Isakson Symposium speakers for their many years of service to the nation, their friendship with Isakson and their ability to navigate a polarized political landscape at the highest levels of government.
“I cannot think of a better way to carry on our dear friend’s legacy than by promoting discussion on this important topic,” McConnell said. “Johnny’s investments in friendship and common ground commanded respect from each of his 99 colleagues and paid dividends for his state, our country and the entire world. It is an honor to participate in this event.”
Isakson, a UGA alumnus who served the state of Georgia for over four decades, was known for his unwavering commitment to political civility and statesmanship. In a tribute, the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., spoke of Isakson’s reputation as a bridge builder and a man who had strong beliefs but also was willing to work with others to get things done. Lewis said the senator “crossed the aisle without compromising [his] values.”
Manchin noted, “Senator Isakson was one of the finest U.S. senators we have ever seen. He was a truly decent man who never shied away from fair debate, took immense pride in legislating and appreciated the value of bipartisan compromise. At his core, Johnny was unwaveringly devoted to the great state of Georgia and to his family. I am honored to join Senator McConnell at the inaugural Isakson Symposium to discuss our dear friend’s legacy.”
To honor and perpetuate Sen. Isakson’s legacy of statesmanship and political civility, SPIA established the Johnny Isakson Legacy Fund. The fund supports educational programs, scholarships, internships, research and service opportunities at SPIA that advance political civility and encourage common-interest problem solving.