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Miami alumnus Paul Ryan elected U.S. Speaker of the House

By Emily Williams, Assistant News Editor

Miami alumnus and Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan is officially the nation's 54th Speaker of the House. His election Thursday morning resolved a period of uncertainty following the resignation of former Speaker and Butler County representative John Boehner.

The House Republicans nominated him for the position Wednesday. He won the votes of 236 members, only losing nine votes from House Republicans.

In his first address to the House as Speaker, Ryan acknowledged several issues within the House and introduced some of his initial goals.

"We are not settling scores. We are wiping the slate clean," Ryan said in his speech. "Neither the members nor the people are satisfied with how things are going. We need to make some changes, starting with how the House does business."

Ryan went on to encourage more openness and clarity within the House, as well as a stronger focus on allowing all members to contribute equally and having committees retake the lead in drafting legislation.

In a statement today, President David Hodge congratulated Ryan and praised Miami's political history.

"Miami has a long history of producing leaders in service to their country, from members of Abraham Lincoln's cabinet to Miami alumnus Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president of the United States, to the current sitting members of Congress," said Hodge. "We celebrate this new role for Paul Ryan and wish him well with his new responsibilities."

President of Miami's College Republicans Charlie Meyer said he's excited to so see how Ryan's national success will inspire younger students, especially within his organization.

"It's going to be awesome to tell incoming freshmen that Paul Ryan was in their shoes when he was at Miami," Meyer said. "Now he's one of the leading policy makers in the country."

Ryan, who graduated in 1992 with a degree in political science and economics, returned to Miami to deliver the commencement address for the class of 2009.

"It is here at Miami where I was able to find myself," Ryan said in his address. "I found a sense of direction and a sense of identity."

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Crediting professors and friends for challenging him to think critically about the world, he described in his speech how his passion for politics began in Oxford.

"It was here where I fell in love with economics and public policy, and six years after graduating, I got elected to Congress," said Ryan.

In his speech, Ryan specifically noted how his economics professor, Richard Hart, took an interest in Ryan's desire to learn and introduced him to new ways of thinking.

Hart recalls Ryan as a pensive, intelligent student. He used to frequent Hart's office hours - but not to ask questions about the course material. Ryan understood the material, Hart said, and instead would come to discuss broader ideas of economics and public policy that went beyond what he had learned in the classroom.

"We could sit in my office for four hours and never get tired, never get bored and remain curious and excited about the conversation," said Hart. "He was a rare student in that sense."

Hart said he has high hopes for what Ryan will accomplish as Speaker and thinks he will be an especially articulate spokesperson for the Republican Party.

In his Thursday morning address, Ryan shared similarly high expectations for his term, reflecting on his position's place in American history.

"When the first speaker took the gavel, he looked out at a room of 30 people, representing a nation of 3 million. Today, as I look out at you, we represent a nation of 300 million," Ryan said in his address. "So when I hear people say America does not have it - we are done, we are spent - I do not believe it. I believe, with every fiber of my being, we can renew the American Idea."