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UCLA Magazine Winter 2003
The Rising
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Winter 2003
The Cardinal of Westwood
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Congressman Lewis and  Bruin, his dog

From the wreckage of war-torn Iraq to the devastation in his own fire-ravaged district, Lewis is quick to make things happen. Hours after he learned about the outbreak of the Old fire in the San Bernardino Mountains in late October, Lewis was on a plane back to California.

He toured the fire areas and met with evacuees at San Bernardino International Airport. Lewis was personally touched by the tragedy; his son, Dan, lost his house in the foothill neighborhood of Waterman Canyon. Lewis returned to Washington late the next day to introduce a $500-million emergency spending measure for fire relief, to be attached to the Iraq supplemental appropriations bill.

Lewis continues to look for even more funds to help avoid further dangers like mudslides and another wildfire. Just months earlier, Lewis was key in securing funding to fight the widespread damage caused by the bark beetle, which has been destroying many of the beautiful, tall trees in the San Bernardino and Riverside mountain ranges.

"The fire is a situation that makes you feel entirely helpless," says Lewis. "I spent time with my son, who had to go from closet to closet, from room to room, to estimate replacement costs for his home and valuables. The personal loss is devastating."

Lewis' dedication and commitment to public service has not gone unnoticed. Among his many honors and accolades, he received the 2001 Coro Fellows Award, along with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Coro is the preeminent leadership-training program for young Americans interested in public affairs, and the award honors program graduates for distinguished leadership. Lewis completed his fellowship in Los Angeles in 1957.

In 1996, Lewis was honored for his efforts in support of proton-radiation therapy at the dedication of a new research facility at Loma Linda University Medical Center. In 2000, his strong support for federal funding of university-based research earned Lewis the Champion of Science award from the Science Coalition, an organization of some 400 member-groups that promotes the expansion and strengthening of the federal government's commitment to university-based scientific, medical, engineering and agricultural exploration.

"Research is key to the nation's future economic stability and prosperity, and Rep. Lewis understands that if you want to advance society in many different areas, then you must be willing to make this type of investment," says Roberto Peccei, UCLA vice chancellor for research.

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