Former U.S. Rep. Dent to serve as inaugural McCourtney Institute visiting fellow

Jenna Spinelle
June 28, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Former U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, a Penn State alumnus who served seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, will join the University’s McCourtney Institute for Democracy this fall as the organization’s first visiting fellow.

Congressman Charlie Dent

Congressman Charlie Dent will serve as the McCourtney Institute for Democracy's first visiting fellow this fall.

IMAGE: Photo Provided

During his time at University Park, Dent and McCourtney Institute Managing Director Chris Beem will teach a one-credit seminar titled “American Politics and World Problems.” The course is open to any undergraduate student at University Park and is listed as “PLSC 197” in LionPATH.

The McCourtney Institute also is planning a public lecture for Dent at University Park and an event for Penn State alumni at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., later this fall. Dent said he looks forward to the opportunity to connect with the Penn State community to share his experience in politics.

“I’m so excited about returning to Penn State to teach a course on American politics. It is indeed a high honor to be the inaugural visiting fellow for the McCourtney Institute for Democracy,” Dent said. “I look forward to engaging with students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of Penn State and discussing contemporary politics and the challenges democracy faces here at home and around the world.”

Dent, a Republican, retired from Congress in 2018 after representing Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley for seven terms. Before that, he served for six years in the Pennsylvania Senate and eight years in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He’s now executive director of the Aspen Institute Congressional Program, a CNN political analyst and an affiliate of the global law firm DLA Piper.

“Representative Dent exemplifies our mission as ‘partisans for democracy,’” said Michael Berkman, McCourtney Institute director and professor of political science. “His commitment to facts and truth, the rule of law and ethical leadership will make a lasting impact on our students, faculty, alumni and the community.”

Clarence Lang, Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts, said Dent’s vast political experience inside and outside of Congress, as well as his connections to Penn State, made him a strong choice for the inaugural McCourtney Institute visiting fellow position.

“Dent’s residency could not come at a more pertinent moment for our college,” Lang said. “His fellowship is consistent with the college’s goals of advancing critical discourse, democratic participation and ethical political engagement across partisan lines.”

In November 2020, Dent joined Berkman for a virtual event discussing the future of the Republican Party. He’s also been a guest on the institute’s Democracy Works podcast.

Outside of the McCourtney Institute, Dent received the Penn State Distinguished Alumni Award in 2019, the University’s highest honor presented to alumni, as well as the Friend of Penn State legislative award in 2016. He earned a bachelor’s degree in foreign service and international politics from the College of the Liberal Arts and a master’s degree in public administration from Lehigh University.

Last Updated June 30, 2021