Butler professor balances political, educational life

He’s been called the perennial candidate here in Indiana.

He first ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994 against Andrew Jacobs in what was then the 10th Congressional District.

He’s now running against incumbent Rep. André Carson for the 7th Congressional District.

Between his first and current campaign, Marvin Scott, professor of sociology here at Butler University, was defeated in the 1996 Republican primary for U.S. House by Virginia Blankenbaker and again in 1998 by Gary Hofmeister. He was also defeated by former Rep. Julia Carson in the 2000 congressional election, after receiving the Republican nomination.

But Scott considers one of his biggest achievements his 2004 run for U.S. Senate versus incumbent Sen. Evan Bayh.

“In 2004 versus Evan Bayh, nearly 1 million hoosiers voted for me,” Scott said. He received 37 percent of the vote in the election.

Though Scott said he has always been interested in politics, it was Butler history professor George Geib who really inspired him to run for public office for the first time in 1994.

Geib has known Scott for 20 years and said he encouraged Scott to run because he has “an informed understanding  of the problems and challenges that face the upwardly mobile in American society.”

“He has an incisive, original mind and is a very compassionate individual,” Geib said. “Scott has been a leader in everything from [Boy Scouts] to academic administration.”

With an extensive résumé of runs for public office without a win, Scott said he doesn’t get discouraged and that it is his love for politics and his country that keep him going.

“Politics gets into your blood,” Scott said. “I have been thoroughly ‘transfusioned.’”

The high point of his political career, Scott said, came when he was an Indiana delegate at the 2004 Republican National Convention and gave a speech during the convention.

“That was the watermark of my career,” Scott said.

But public office only came into Scott’s life 16 years ago, with his first Congressional race. While he has always had an interest in politics, education is Scott’s main career focus.

“I will never make a career out of politics,” Scott said. “If elected, I wouldn’t serve more than two, maybe three terms in congress.”

His story begins in small-town Henderson, N.C., where he was born into a family of seven children.

Scott credits his parents with being a driving force for he and his siblings success.

“My parents have been the cornerstone in everything in my life,” he said. “They taught me a work ethic that was second to none.”

The work ethic instilled in himself and his siblings led Scott and his sister to earn not only undergraduate degrees, but also doctorate degrees, something Scott said is “truly remarkable.”

Scott earned his undergraduate degree in psychology from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C., one year of which he spent studying at Allahabad University in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India.

“I think that is where my learning really started,” Scott said. “After studying in India, I discovered I was rich.

“It gave my a different view of the community and has since influenced me as a person.

“[India] was not always kind to me, but it provided me an opportunity to better myself, and for that, I will fight tenaciously to give others the opportunities that I had.”

After completing his doctorate, Scott worked in various jobs, serving as the president of Saint Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Va., assistant chancellor of the Board of Regents for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for five years and assistant to the provost and associate dean and professor at Boston University for ten years. He also spent seven years as a talk show host for Boston’s WKRO and once had his own stamp shop and consulting firm.

Scott said his proudest accomplishment was creating the Single Parent Support System at Saint Paul’s College. The program provides housing and support for single parents who want to attend college with one or two children between the ages of two months and nine years, according to saintpauls.edu.

“Having a child and becoming a single parent is a life sentence of sorts,” Scott said. “It shouldn’t be that way, and that’s why I wanted to start this program so single parents could be afforded the opportunity to better the lives of their children and themselves.”

The money for the program, Scott said, was awarded to him through the Lilly Endowment, for which he later worked.

“I decided to take a job with Lilly because of all the things they did to help me when I was starting the single parent program,” Scott said. “That’s what led me to Indianapolis.”

After Lilly, Scott joined the faculty at Butler and has been here for the past 18 years.

Outside of his work, Scott said he is a devotee to classical music, an avid art collector and he enjoys playing tennis, traveling and collecting model trains.

“I’ve done just about all the things I’ve wanted to do in my life and been about all the places I’ve wanted to go,” Scott said. “I have a happy life.”

Scott said his best advice to students is to be diverse and not to be afraid to try new things.

“I’ve traveled the world, but one thing left on my list is to go on the trans-Siberian and trans-Orient trains,” he said. “I’d like to take that rail trip for a month, across Russia and into the new, open portion of Tibet all the way to Peking.

“That will be my last great adventure.”


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