The independent news organization of Duke University

Clinton adviser may teach class

One of Bill Clinton's top counselors may take a job at the University.

Nothing is definite yet, but David Gergen, who joined the White House staff about a year ago, has been telling people that he is interested in teaching at the Terry Sanford Institute of Policy Sciences.

"We would love to be able to entice him down here," said Bruce Kuniholm, director of the institute.

Kuniholm said he talked with Gergen earlier this semester about teaching at the University.

The Washington Post reported in a front-page story Sunday that Gergen told White House officials he is considering coming to Duke. He told the newspaper that he wanted to stay until the end of the legislative session this fall and would not be available to the University until spring 1995.

"He'd be a real coup for Duke," said John Burness, senior vice president for public affairs.

Although Gergen will have many other job offers, several factors might attract him to the Triangle.

Gergen grew up in Durham, with a father who was a professor at the University and a mother who still lives in the area. His son Chris graduated from the University last year.

He also has had prior contact with the University. He once served on the Board of Visitors of the public policy institute and gave a speech at the institute's graduation ceremonies last spring.

Gergen was in town last week when he came to talk to Washington Post columnist David Broder's class on health care policy Thursday.

What might Gergen, who helped reorganize the White House's public relations efforts and push through the North American Free Trade Agreement last year, teach at Duke?

"I think that he'd be best at teaching a course in communications policy," Kuniholm said.

Gergen told the Post that his discussions with the University reflect a desire to stay out of the partisan politics during midterm elections. He also said he had always intended to work for Clinton for a short period, not for a full term.

Before taking his current post at the White House, Gergen was an executive and columnist at U.S. News and World Report.

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