The Echo: Taylor alumni compete for Congress

This November, Rep. Jackie Walorski will face off with Mel Hall for a seat in the House of Representatives. They share one striking trait in common. Both are Taylor graduates.

The two candidates will face off in Indiana’s Second Congressional District, as the incumbent Republican, Walorski, seeks a fourth term. The district has a history of swinging across party lines, the previous occupant being Democrat Senator Joe Donnelly.

Walorski’s path to politics was a long road. She graduated in 1985 with a degree in Communications and Public Administration after transferring from Liberty Baptist College.

“Jackie showed evidence of being a future leader as she showed creativity and a positive attitude through her personality,” Taylor Professor Emeritus Charles Kirkpatrick said. “I was not surprised when I learned that she had won a seat in the U.S. Congress from her district in northern Indiana a couple of years ago.”

After graduation, Walorski held a variety of positions, ranging from television reporter to roles at various universities and organizations. In the early 2000s, she founded a missionary organization in Romania, where she stayed until 2004.

Upon her return to the United States, she began her political career in the Republican Party. After six years in the State Senate, she ran her first congressional campaign, against Joe Donnelly, and lost. After redistricting altered the local political landscape, she launched her second attempt in 2012. It proved successful.

Hall, meanwhile, graduated from Taylor 10 years earlier in 1975 with a degree in history. One of his freshman year roommates, Tim Herrmann, remains at Taylor as the director of the Master of Arts in Higher Education program.

“Mel grew up on a farm near Marion and was part of a wonderful family who often welcomed me into their home,” Herrmann said. “Mel was a great roommate and friend who was a lot of fun but who also cared deeply for others. As a college student he had a strong sense of ‘fairness’ and often looked out for others…. I would be remiss not to note his sense of humor—Mel had a very sharp wit in every sense of that term and I was both benefactor and target of his humor many times… he was a fun guy to be around.”

Alan Winquist, professor emeritus of history, also remembered Hall’s time at Taylor. He shared how he met the then-senior Hall in one of his first classes at Taylor, a course in Russian civilization he had not expected to teach. Over the course of the semester, however, Winquist grew close with the students and remained in touch with several of them, including Hall.

After Taylor, Hall went into seminary at Asbury University and accepted a placement leading a church in urban Detroit, where he spearheaded multiple new social programs to invest in the members of the community.

Hall would later shift direction in life, earning a Ph.D. from Notre Dame and joining Press Ganey, a healthcare data management company that monitors patient experiences. Hall would eventually become CEO, widely expanding the company. This election marks his first foray into politics, a campaign based largely on a healthcare platform.

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