Alumni impact world of politics

Jill Brower

With political debate abuzz across the country, a number of alumni have emerged prominently in the field of politics. Several graduates, with degrees ranging from political science to English, have risen in the political ranks since leaving the University.

Gerald Pappert, a 1985 graduate, was recently named the new attorney general of Pennsylvania. On Jan. 20, Pappert was unanimously confirmed by the Senate to replace former Attorney General Mike Fisher, who resigned to become a judge on the United States Court of Appeals.

As attorney general, Pappert has specific plans to crack down on fraudulent pricing in the prescription drug area, as well as to forcefully execute the laws on drug diversion, the illegal diversion of legal drugs, which he notes is “a significant problem in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.”

He added, “The people of Pennsylvania expect their Attorney General to be very aggressive in criminal law enforcement and I’m going to do that.”

After graduating with a political science and honors degree, Pappert moved on to Notre Dame Law School. He then moved back to Philadelphia, where he worked with a large law firm. During this time, he became active in politics, working on Santorum’s 1994 Senate campaign and Fisher’s 1996 campaign for attorney general.

Pappert recalled that his “overall experience at Villanova helped to prepare me very well, first for law school and then for my professional career.” In addition, he felt that it served to prepare him “personally and socially.”

He recalled the 1985 NCAA basketball championship as a highlight of his time at the University.

“The things I learned and the friendships I made at Villanova have been and continue to be a big positive part of my life,” Pappert said.

Another alumnus, John DiStaso of the class of 1975, has also made a name for himself in the political arena as a journalist. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English, DiStaso moved up from writing for a North Jersey weekly to becoming senior political reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader.

DiStaso looks back on his days at Villanova as “a lot of fun, but it wasn’t easy, I remember,” he said. “Villanova and everything around it has prepared me for life in general.”

During his four years, DiStaso took a number of courses in journalism and reviewed rock concerts for The Villanovan, which he described as “the greatest job.” He also wrote for local weekly papers in his spare time, including the Wayne’s Suburban Times.

Since moving to New Hampshire in 1979, DiStaso has been involved in political writing. This year’s New Hampshire primary was the sixth he has covered. He was one of the panelists at the Democratic candidate’s debate, asking a number of questions about Iraq, taxes and other issues.

“I wanted to draw them out and see how they acted under pressure,” DiStaso said. “I was also interested in seeing how Dean would act after flying off the handle in Iowa.”

He described the debate as “a good debate for the voters, though not for the national media” who were “looking for fireworks.”

Another graduate making waves in New England is Dante Scala, a 1990 graduate. Scala, who majored in political science, philosophy, and honors released a book titled “Stormy Weather: The New Hampshire Primary and Presidential Politics” on Jan. 27, the eve of the New Hampshire Primary.

Currently, Scala is an associate professor of politics at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N. H. His book examines how the New Hampshire primary, “sets the stage and affects candidates’ odds of success or failure.”