John Brademas, a political, financial and academic dynamo who served 22 years in Congress and more than a decade as president of New York University in an all-but-seamless quest to promote education, the arts and a liberal agenda, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 89, The New York Times reports:
As a Democratic representative from Indiana from 1959 to 1981, Mr. Brademas became known as Mr. Education and Mr. Arts. He sponsored bills that nearly doubled federal aid for elementary and secondary education in the mid-1960s and that created the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities. He was also instrumental in annual financing of the arts and humanities and in the passage of Project Head Start, the National Teachers Corps and college tuition aid and loan programs.
He opposed the Vietnam War and many defense measures, rebuked President Richard M. Nixon in the Watergate scandal and voted for civil rights legislation, environmental protections, day care programs and services for the elderly and people with disabilities. He became majority whip, the House’s third-ranking official, and was re-elected 10 times in a mostly conservative district, winning up to 79 percent of the vote.
U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, who once represented Brademas’ former congressional district, called him a friend, AP reports.
“John was unfailingly kind, helpful, and thoughtful. He burned with a deep love for our country and with a desire to make the world a better place,” he added. “He devoted his life to serving others, from his time in the Navy to his extraordinary leadership for more than two decades in Congress, where he led the charge to advance causes including civil rights, social justice, and education.”
In 2001, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) presented its Democracy Service Medal to John Brademas, Fred Iklé, Richard Lugar and Stephen Solarz in recognition of their nine years of service on the NED Board of Directors, and for their outstanding contributions to the cause of democracy.
“While the internationalist tradition of politicians from Indiana is well known, it should be especially evident on Thursday evening,” said Brademas commenting on the five Hoosiers who took part in the proceedings (including Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr., the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, who served as Lugar’s Chief of Staff.). “I am proud to have served both a state and an institution that care so much about the world beyond our borders.”
“John Brademas was a great public servant and a fervent friend of democracy in the United States and throughout the world,” said NED President Carl Gershman. “His chairmanship of the NED board during the Clinton Administration helped solidify the bipartisan consensus in the Congress favoring democracy assistance, and his strong leadership rallied support for NED’s mission and work at a time of growing isolationism in the aftermath of the Cold War. John was a beloved man, and he will be long remembered and sorely missed.”
The bipartisan nature of the endowment was particularly important to Brademas. At a 1999 forum on Spain’s democratic transition, he emphasized that the NED “was the product of collaboration between a Republican President, Ronald Reagan, and a Congress controlled in both chambers by the Democratic Party.”
Current NYU President Andrew Hamilton described Brademas as a “person of remarkable character and integrity.”