Congresswoman Katie Porter, who represents Orange County in California’s 45'th Congressional District, hosted a private meeting and Town Hall on the campus of Concordia University Irvine on April 25, 2019. The event marked the first time that a sitting member of the U.S. Congress held a Town Hall on the Irvine campus.
Beginning her stop at CUI, Rep. Porter first met with University leaders and students. President Kurt Krueger and Provost Peter Senkbeil, together with Director of Financial Aid Lori McDonald and head of CUI’s Hispanic-Serving initiative Lizz Mishreki, sat down with Porter and students to discuss financial aid and HSI (Hispanic-Serving Institution) status. Students who met with the Congresswoman to share their stories included first-generation Hispanic student-athlete sophomore Angel Aguirre from Whittier, CA; junior Liberal Studies major and Student Body President-Elect Isabelle Upchurch of Wake Forest, NC; and Peruvian-born senior Business major and biology minor Diego Del Risco Orbegoso of Gilbert, AZ.
“It was an amazing opportunity that I thought I’d never have,” said student Angel Aguirre. “Knowing that Rep. Porter is doing her best to help Irvine residents has given me more motivation to attain my dream to help others.” Porter’s District Director said that the Congresswoman was moved by the students’ stories.
Following the meeting, Rep. Porter held a private Town Hall in the conference room of Grimm Hall. With overflow in the patio and standing room only, about 140 faculty, staff, and students gathered to ask questions and to get to know their new congressional representative. For moderator Assistant Professor of English Bryan Santin, the Town Hall was more than just asking questions of the freshman Democrat. "An event like this one is valuable because Congresswoman Porter models and reinforces many of the core principles of a liberal arts education,” said Santin. “Engaging with diverse ideological perspectives, thinking critically and analytically, and debating positions with reason and respect are all part of the liberal education process.” Audience members asked questions about abortion, immigration, voting rights, and the 2020 primary races.
Organized by the Office of the Provost, CUI’s private meeting and Town Hall were two of the Congresswoman’s stops during her time in the district. Following the November election, Concordia reached out to newly elected lawmakers, like Rep. Porter, to congratulate them and welcome them to Concordia’s campus. “It’s a way to give our legislators the opportunity to get to know what Concordia stands for,” said Provost Peter Senkbeil. “And, for us to get to know our lawmakers. With higher education evolving—especially for faith-based colleges and universities—engaging with our legislators helps to build productive working relationships.”
In the November 2018 election, Rep. Porter defeated Mimi Walters, becoming the first Democrat to represent the 45 th district since it was created in 1983. In 2012, then California Attorney General Kamala Harris appointed Rep. Porter to be the State’s independent monitor of banks in a nationwide $25 billion mortgage settlement. She has been a consumer protection attorney for nearly 20 years, and is a tenured professor of law at the UCI School of Law. As a single working mom of three young children who understands firsthand the challenges faced by working families, the Irvine resident has supported proposals for expanded access on childcare and paid family medical leave. A member of the Committee on Financial Services, Rep. Porter earned her undergraduate degree from Yale University, and graduated magna cum laude with her juris doctorate in 2001 from Harvard Law School.
ABOUT CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY IRVINE
Concordia University Irvine (CUI) is a non-profit Lutheran Christian liberal arts four-year university that prepares students for their vocations—their calling in life. Concordia offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs in education, nursing, theology, business, and athletics administration. CUI’s undergraduate program is distinctive because of its nationally recognized core curriculum, Enduring Questions & Ideas, and its Lutheran heritage that provides a thoughtful and caring Christian community that lives out the theology of "Grace Alone. Faith Alone." Concordia is a U.S. News Top Tier Regional University and has been named by The Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the fastest growing private nonprofit master's institutions. The university is part of the Concordia University System, the second largest education ministry system in the United States just behind the Catholic Church. The NCAA DII private university enrolls over 4,000 students annually.