George McGovern, Northwestern alum and former U.S. senator, dead at 90

Paulina Firozi, Campus Editor

George McGovern, former three-term U.S. senator, 1972 Democratic presidential nominee and notable Northwestern alumnus, died Sunday morning at the age of 90.

A statement from his family confirmed his death, according to The New York Times. The article stated he had been in hospice care after being treated for health problems and injuries following a fall last year.

McGovern (GWCAS ’49, Ph.D, ’53) was born in Avon, S.D., and went to Dakota Wesleyan University before becoming a student minister at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary on NU’s campus.  Before pursuing a master’s and a Ph.D. in history from NU, McGovern was inspired by a lecture he heard from NU professor Ray Allen Billington, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln website.

He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1956 before joining the Senate. The South Dakota senator is remembered for his unabated liberalism and his landslide loss to Richard Nixon in the 1972 presidential election, winning just 17 electoral votes to Nixon’s 520. McGovern’s presidential campaign focused on a platform of ending the Vietnam War.

But McGovern told the New York Times that his staff did not work enough toward creating an anti-war image during the campaign.

“We were more interested in ending the war in Vietnam and getting people out of poverty and being fair to women and minorities and saving the environment,” he said.

According to The New York Times, President Barack Obama released a statement referring to McGovern as “a champion for peace” and a “statesman of great conscience and conviction.”

As a visiting professor, according to University archives, McGovern most recently delivered the annual Richard W. Leopold Lecture at NU in 2000.