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UCLA Magazine Winter 2003
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Winter 2003
The Cardinal of Westwood
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For 25 years, Congressman Jerry Lewis has been a powerful voice on Capitol Hill and a valuable friend to UCLA

Congressman Jerry Lewis

By Nancy Grund
Photography by Cade Martin

To walk into Rep. Jerry Lewis' Rayburn Building office on Capitol Hill is to enter a virtual shrine of UCLA memorabilia.
There's the UCLA chair. There's a Bruin cap on a shelf. A UCLA mouse pad is next to the computer. Scattered throughout are numerous stuffed Bruin bears. Check out the congressman's Web site and there's a link, in Bruin blue, to UCLA.

And then there's Bruin himself, Lewis' fluffy, white, snowball-shaped 3-year-old bichon frisé-poodle mix, who was a gift from his wife, Arlene, and is a constant companion both in the office and out.

"There was no discussion about the name," says Lewis '56. "It was automatic."

Indeed, Lewis never misses a chance to give a nod to his alma mater.

And indeed it is good to have friends in high places, and Lewis' place is among the highest. With 25 years on The Hill, Lewis has risen to become the third-ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee and chair of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, a perch from which he is largely responsible for managing the $400-plus- billion Defense Department budget.

As one of the most powerful men in Washington, Lewis has been instrumental in helping UCLA at times of great need. When the Northridge earthquake hit the Los Angeles region in 1994, Lewis came to UCLA to tour the damaged campus with James Lee Witt, then director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. With Lewis' assistance, FEMA funding was secured to assist with the restoration of Powell Library and Royce Hall.

"If not for Jerry Lewis, there would be a whole generation of students who missed the experience of higher education in those magnificent campus buildings," says Chancellor Albert Carnesale. "He was enormously helpful in securing the funding to keep us up and running following the earthquake."

Lewis also helped UCLA to secure FEMA funding to build a new hospital to replace UCLA Medical Center, which was badly damaged in the quake. The new hospital is scheduled for completion by the end of 2005.

"Congressman Lewis has really been a leader and an advocate for all of higher education, particularly in support of science and research," notes Keith Parker, assistant vice chancellor for government and community relations. "He has a tremendous sense of pride and loyalty for UCLA."


2005 The Regents of the University of California