Making Women’s History

Senator Barbara Mikulski on Breaking Boundaries in American Politics

March 11, 2021 – Last month, Former United States Senator Barbara Mikulski spoke to the Rutgers community as the 2020-2021 Clifford P. Case Professorship of Public Affairs about her legacy of leadership and the status of our political institutions. Throughout her career of public service as the longest-serving woman in the Senate and in Congress, Senator Mikulski left cracks in the glass ceiling, breaking down barriers for women’s entry into elected office and the American political system.

“I ran for city council and everyone laughed at me… saying I didn’t have a chance, but I won… It was unheard of that a woman could do that. The people were for me because I was for the people… Little did I know, I’d become the longest serving woman in American politics,” said Senator Mikulski during her virtual visit.

Mikulski also encouraged young people to get involved in politics and the democratic process: “Get involved. It is your time. It is your turn. You bring ideas. You bring energy and idealism. We need all three things. We need idealism. We need ideas to put the idealism into action, and we need the energy and commitment to organize to get it done.”

Watch the video of Senator Mikulski’s public conversation with the Rutgers community.

As the Case Professor, Senator Mikulski also virtually joined three class sessions in various schools and programs throughout the university.

Kelly Dittmar, Rutgers-Camden associate professor of political science and scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics, led a conversation with Senator Mikulski during a virtual session with Eagleton students. Dittmar, co-author of A Seat at the Table: Congresswomen’s Perspectives on Why Their Presence Matters with colleagues Kira Sanbonmatsu and Susan J. Carroll, asked what advice the senator would give to students who aspire to run for elected office. Senator Mikulski urged students to “be your authentic self.”

Senator Mikulski also visited Professor Kira Sanbonmatsu’s Women and American Politics course as well as Professor Elizabeth Sloan’s Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare course, offered by the Department of Social Work at the School of Arts and Sciences-Newark.

About the Case Professorship of Public Affairs:
Over 34 years representing New Jersey in the United States Congress, Senator Clifford P. Case “consistently put principle above politics” and earned “the deserved reputation of having a profound sense of integrity.” In recognition of that distinguished career, the Rutgers Board of Governors voted in 1980 to establish the Clifford P. Case Professorship of Public Affairs, which honors Senator Case by bringing to the Rutgers campus prominent and respected public servants.