Did you know that some pretty famous politicians have graduated from Wooster? A governor of Idaho, deputy director of the FBI, vice chairman of the Federal Reserve and more have all walked these hallowed grounds with “Scotland the Brave” ringing in their ears. Most recently, Eugene DePasquale ’93, who has been serving as Pennsylvania’s auditor general since 2013, is currently running for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 10th district. He recently took the time to reflect on his Wooster experience and how it led him to a career in politics.
“I really loved my experience at Wooster,” DePasquale said in a telephone interview. “I thought it was a great college experience; it really helped shape me in every way moving forward [and] sparked a lot of intellectual curiosity while also being able to balance my love for sports.”
The Pittsburgh native was a two-sport athlete, playing both football and baseball during his four years — the latter under recently retired coach Tim Pettorini. DePasquale earned awards in both sports, was a member of a national honor society and was the vice president for Inter-Sectional Council, the equivalent of today’s Inter-Greek Council. We discussed an interview he did as vice president with the Voice that appeared in the Sep. 24, 1992 issue.
“I thought it should be called the Inter-Fraternal Council, but they wanted to keep it the Inter -Sectional Council because they didn’t want us to be recognized as a fraternity,” DePasquale explained. “I remember saying, ‘well, we are fraternities and sororities, so why don’t we just call it that?,’ but of course they didn’t want that.”
I told the candidate that ten- sions have subsided between Greek organizations and administration, so it turned out he was on the right side of history.
“My argument eventually won,” DePasquale said while laughing. “It took 20 years, but it eventually won!”
Surprisingly, DePasquale did not go to the College with the intention of getting a political science degree. It turns out he was interested in a completely different kind of science.
“This may be the most shocking revelation I could ever offer about myself,” he said, “but I started out as a computer science major and that lasted exactly one semester.”
When asked what ultimately led him to switching majors, De- Pasquale described the existential experience many first-years go through. “It was one of those nights; you’re sitting around the dorm and we were talking about what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives even though it’s the middle of our first semester … and I knew I couldn’t stand computer science when some- one said, ‘you’re interested in politics, why don’t you take a political science class?’ And that’s where it started.”
DePasquale described one political science class specifically that clicked with him and got him excited about the future.
“Professor [Kevin] Snape had an urban politics class … and we had a whole semester class [dedicated to] running the city of Cleveland, and I remember that it lit a spark in me,” he revealed.
He added, “The fascinating part of that class that I still remember today is that if you have a problem and you believe the problem needs to be fixed, how do you work with other elected officials, activists, lobbyists, the mayor, business groups, etc. to get the thing solved?”
This sentiment can be seen in DePasquale’s pursuit of elected office. He was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2006 where he served until being elected State Auditor General in 2012. He described some of the crucial experiences he had at Wooster that helped him in graduate and law school.
“Having high-end academics and balancing that with playing college sports teaches you about balancing and being present in the moment of what you’re doing,” he said. “At football practice you can’t be worried about your paper, and when you’re writing your paper you can’t be worried about football.”
DePasquale continued, “Because the classes are so small at Wooster, it sharpens your intellectual curiosity and you hear from people that agree and disagree with you, so it helps you really think things through.”
He felt that the difficulty of getting a Wooster education ultimately helped him with the rigor in his postgraduate studies and career, especially because of I.S. DePasquale had no trouble explaining his topic.
“It was looking at television commercials in presidential campaigns, basically trying to figure out what worked and what didn’t,” DePasquale said with some enthusiasm. “I even did a focus group! Even though it had a huge flaw of being all college students, it was about trying to figure out why some people like certain commercials and others didn’t.”
Regarding what advice he had for students pursuing a career in politics, DePasquale stated that narrowing yourself into a career right away was the wrong move.
“I would say try anything you think you’d like,” he offered. “Use the opportunity at Wooster … to try out every- thing to see where your passions are. And then when you find that spark, just go from there.”