Pete Wilson, the 36th Governor of California, has been appointed a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution effective immediately, it was announced today.
In this new capacity, Wilson will concentrate on the relationships between government and the governed affecting education and economic development on the domestic side, and upon national security, focusing on ballistic-missile defense and counter-terrorism.
"Hoover is one of the most exciting centers of intellectual energy to be found anywhere. Its scholars, policy-makers, business, governmental and media leaders constantly ask the questions and find answers that promise to take America to greater heights," said Wilson. "I'm honored that they've asked me to join them and lend my insights on issues that are vital to this nation's future."
Because of California's term-limits law, Wilson stepped down from public service last month upon the completion of his second term as California's chief executive - the culmination of more than three decades in the public arena that included eight years as a United States Senator (1983-1991), eleven years as Mayor of San Diego (1971-1983), and five years as a California State Assemblyman (1967-1971).
"Pete Wilson stands out among America's leading statesmen. Throughout his career, at every level of government, he has broken new ground on the issues that have defined our time," said Hoover Institution Director John Raisian. "His philosophy and track record of accomplishments embody Hoover's vision of empowerment of the individual, reducing government intrusiveness, and the safeguarding and preservation of both individual freedom and America's national security."
As Mayor of San Diego, Wilson led the transformation of that city from a quiet Navy town to an international trade hub, amending the city charter to make public safety the first and foremost responsibility of city government and leading a successful effort to manage San Diego's dynamic growth and to revitalize the city's downtown area. He substantially cut the property-tax rate and imposed a limit on the growth of the city budget which became a model for California's subsequently adopted Proposition 4. The late Howard Jarvis said of Wilson's performance as Mayor of San Diego: "If they'd all run their cities the way Pete Wilson has run San Diego, we would not have needed Proposition 13."
As a United States Senator, Wilson was a leading voice for a stronger defense and U.S. foreign policy. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he was one of the first and most vocal advocates of the "High Frontier". He called for early implementation of President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, a national ballistic missile-defense system.
Wilson also authored several key trade laws to open up foreign trade markets to U.S. exports and to achieve reciprocity from our trading partners for America's markets opening free-trade policies. He was a leading voice in the Senate for measures to reduce both supply and demand for illegal drugs.
Wilson also co-sponsored the federal Intergovernmental Regulatory Relief Act requiring Washington to reimburse states for the cost of new federal mandates. And his fiscal conservatism in the Senate earned him "Watchdog of the Treasury" honors for each of his eight years in the nation's capital. In perhaps his most memorable moment as a United States Senator, while recovering from an emergency appendectomy he had himself wheeled onto the Senate floor at midnight to cast the critical vote needed for Senate passage of the most significant deficit-reduction measure in decades.
Wilson's eight years as Governor saw California emerge from the depths of depression to a resounding economic recovery. Inheriting the state's worst economy since the Great Depression, Wilson remained focused on California's long-term priorities - mainly, the need to dramatically reform California's environment for job-creation and investment, to sharply reduce crime, and to so improve her schools and health-care services so that all California children will be equipped to compete and win in an ever more competitive global marketplace. He achieved all these goals.
Governor Wilson enacted historic education reforms that have been called California's "education renaissance" - reforms based on results, accountability and fiscally-sound investments.
Wilson demanded and got far more rigorous curricular standards, implemented class-size reduction, ended social promotion and replaced it with early, effective remedial education, and also began new programs of individualized testing of all students, teacher-competency and training, a lengthier instructional year, and a return to phonics and early mastery of early reading, writing and mathematical skills. He also created the "Digital High School" program requiring all graduates of California's high schools to be computer-literate, as well as the California Virtual University - a consortium of California's public and private institutions of higher learning to provide distance-learning, especially at the graduate and professional levels.
During his Administration, Wilson included Hoover scholars in key policy decisions. Hoover scholars serving on the Governor's Council of Economic Advisors included: Distinguished Fellow George P. Shultz, the Council's chairman; Senior Fellows Martin T. Anderson, Michael J. Boskin, John F. Cogan, Lawrence J. Lau, John B. Taylor; and Hoover Senior Research Fellow Annelise Anderson.
It was CEA's prescription of tax cuts, regulatory reforms and economic stimuli, recommended by Shultz, Boskin and Anderson that Wilson proposed and subsequently signed into law by Wilson beginning in 1993. It proved to be the cornerstone for California's economic recovery.
More recently, Wilson turned to Hoover Fellows Anderson and Cogan for advice on how to implement welfare reform in California. In addition, Hoover scholars helped Wilson craft his school-choice plan - "opportunity scholarships" for children in California's lowest-performing public schools.
Born on August 23, 1933, in Lake Forest, Illinois, and raised in Missouri, Wilson attended Yale University on a Naval ROTC scholarship and then proceeded to serve three years as a United States Marine Corps infantry officer. Upon completion of his military obligation, Wilson earned a law degree from University of California-Berkeley.
Wilson and his wife, Gayle, a Stanford University graduate, reside in Century City.
Visit the Hoover Institution Web Site at www-hoover.stanford.edu.