Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn has presented the Claremont Institute Statesmanship Award to President Ronald Reagan, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas — but on Oct. 24, he was its recipient at a gala in Santa Monica, California.
“These are old friends from an institution that I helped to build, and so of course I’m very proud,” Arnn said in an email.
Arnn co-founded the California-based Claremont Institute in 1979 and served as its president before his arrival in Hillsdale.
“How far they have fallen, giving it to me,” Arnn joked.
Other winners of the award have included Sen. Ted Cruz (R‑Texas), Associate Justice Samuel Alito, conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The institute honored Arnn for his work in restoring constitutional principles in America.
“Dr. Arnn is a tireless institution builder, educator, and public-spirited leader in a time of great crisis. After a century of progressivism, we must restore and perpetuate the conditions for constitutionalism and self-government in America,” President of the Claremont Institute and 2004 Hillsdale alumnus Ryan Williams said. “We Americans have the good fortune to take up that task together after the prospects for that restoration have been improved considerably by decades of Dr. Arnn’s work.”
American military historian Victor Davis Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and distinguished visiting fellow of history at Hillsdale College, won the award in 2006. As master of ceremonies this year, he presented the award to Arnn.
“Dr. Arnn created a multifaceted Hillsdale College renaissance — a new, powerfully enlarged endowment, a completely new physical plant, restructured faculty compensation and teaching loads leading to renew faculty excellence and morale, and expanded the Hillsdale constitutional message across a number of platforms: online courses, videos, social media, podcasts, retreats, and newsletters,” Hanson said in an email.
Hanson also praised Arnn for remaining “a predictably constitutionally conservative voice when many about him in 2016 to 2020 lost their heads and their bearings.”
“The Hillsdale brand became a source of conservative reassurance and steadiness in an increasingly fragmented and apostate conservative world of chaos and division — largely due to Dr. Arnn’s leadership and common sense, grounded in long study of the Constitution,” Hanson said.
Though Arnn remained humble in receiving the award, he said the work being done at the college may have something to do with it.
“Probably they had in mind that to follow the Constitution requires one understand it and see its merits, and we here teach those things,” Arnn said.