By Daniel C. Houston
Fifteen months after losing his bid for re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives, former Rep. Chet Edwards is not finished bringing attention to the issues on which he staked his political career.
He is, however, exploring a new direction with his career since Baylor hired him as distinguished chair for public service.
“I had been asked in years past what I’d do when I finished my congressional career, and I said that someday I think I would like to teach,” Edwards said Thursday in an interview with the Lariat. “Baylor was gracious enough to approach me and offer this position, and I was honored and humbled to have it.”
Edwards, undeterred by the 2010 election results, said he wanted his post-congressional career to be “a continuation of my 28 years in public service,” during which he spent his first eight years in the Texas Senate and 20 years representing Waco and College Station in Congress.
“Once the election occurred, I tried to close that chapter of my life and look forward,” Edwards said. “I’ve learned in the past that there’s nothing to be gained by ‘what ifs,’ and [wondering] what could have been. So I just saw this as an opportunity to open up a new, exciting chapter of my life.”
Edwards remains involved with Washington organizations that advocate for veterans and military families, the same work he drew attention to during his campaigns and interactions with constituents.
“I can never repay the debt of gratitude I owe our military families and veterans,” Edwards said. “I’ll go to my grave someday trying to make a down payment on that debt. I cared deeply about our troops and military families in Congress, and I felt strongly I wanted to continue that commitment after Congress.”
Through his work with Washington-based groups like the TriWest Healthcare Alliance and the Military Child Education Coalition, Edwards said he hopes to help improve the federal government’s system of health care for military veterans and increase education opportunities for children of active-duty military personnel.
Edwards also serves as a member of the Army National Cemeteries Advisory Commission, which offers advice for, among other things, strategic planning for future development of Arlington National Cemetery, according to the Cemetery’s website.
In addition to his scheduled class lectures and other events like Dr Pepper Hour, Edwards addressed the Student Senate at its Thursday meeting, recalling his time as a student senator at Texas A&M University and how the experience influenced his decision to run for the state Legislature.
“I just think it’s so important for students to have your voices heard, whether it’s building a better Baylor, or building a better country,” Edwards said at the meeting.
Houston senior Zach Rogers, student body president, praised Edwards’ willingness this week to reach out to students outside the classroom in addition to his part-time lecture responsibilities.
“He is a great addition to the Baylor family,” Rogers said. “It has been an incredible honor for him to serve not only as a lecturer but also as a mentor to many students aspiring to be in politics later in life. … I think he embodies what [Capitol] Hill needs to embody, and that is really having a heart of service and truly desiring to meet the needs of others.”