Marquette University mourns the loss of retired U.S. Congressman Jerry Kleczka, who was a close friend to the university. Congressman Kleczka received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Marquette in 2005 for dedicating his life and career to public service. In 2002, Congressman Kleczka made a significant contribution to the university to start an internship program open to all students, placing them in local legislative offices.
The Rev. Timothy O’Brien, Marquette’s director of the Les Aspin Center for Government in Washington D.C., presented Congressman Kleczka with his honorary degree in 2005. He was honored for “devoting his life to improving the lives of his constituents, especially those in greatest need: the poor, the elderly, and the disadvantaged.”
“On behalf of our entire Marquette University community, our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Kleczka family,” said President Michael R. Lovell. “Jerry left a legacy on our campus that will flourish for generations to come. His internship program continues to produce civic leaders who aspire to walk in similar footsteps as the Congressman who paved their way.”
Congressman Kleczka was on the Board of Visitors at the Les Aspin Center and he received the Founder’s Award for the pivotal role he played in the establishment of what was then called the Marquette University Center for Government. He hosted interns in his office and mentored students for his entire congressional career and also helped open doors in other congressional offices for hundreds of future Marquette interns on Capitol Hill so that they could learn the value of public service. The Kleczka internship program continues today and combines hands-on internship experiences with classroom instruction. The program was inspired by the desire of the U.S. Congressman to mentor students to become community leaders in Wisconsin.