Saying he wanted to prevent a potential conflict of interest and uphold the government’s integrity before the nation’s schoolchildren, Secretary of the Interior Donald P. Hodel last week fired Lee A. Iacocca as head of an advisory commission overseeing the restoration of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Mr. lacocca, chairman of the Chrysler Corporation, also directs a private, nonprofit foundation that is raising money for the restoration of the statue. He will continue to head that foundation.
Mr. Hodel expressed concern about Mr. Iacocca’s dual role as head of both the foundation and the 40-member commission, which advises Mr. Hodel and the National Park Service on the uses of the donated funds and oversees the work of contractors hired by the foundation.
Commission members receive no compensation other than per-diem allowance and travel expenses. Mr. Iacocca and other members were appointed by former Secretary of the Interior James G. Watt in 1982 and were reappointed by Mr. Hodel in 1985. The governors of New York and New Jersey and the mayor of New York City also appointed members.
In removing Mr. Iacocca from the commission, Mr. Hodel said he wanted to restore the public’s confidence in the government’s integrity. “We owe that much to our schoolchildren, other individuals, and corporations who have contributed their time and money to help on restoring the Statue of Liberty,” he said.
‘Fabulous’ Student Support
Since the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation began soliciting contributions in 1983, the response from students has been “absolutely fabulous,” said Sheila McCauley, director of school programs for the foundation.
Ms. McCauley said students have raised $4.5 million for the restoration, and she said she expected the total to exceed $5 million. The foundation has raised a total of $233 million, and plans to raise at least $265-million.
Students have conducted marathons, popcorn sales, “Liberty dances,” “Liberty car washes,” and “Liberty dog washes,” Ms. McCauley said. The largest single contribution, she noted, was from Freedom and Liberty high schools in Bethlehem, Pa., which contributed $30,000.
In addition, Ms. McCauley said, she has encouraged teachers to incorporate the statue’s history into all parts of the curriculum. To promote such participation, the foundation is sponsoring an essay contest, named after Christa McAuliffe, the teacher who was killed aboard the space shuttle Challenger.
The names of the essay contest’s winners will be submitted to governors, who will draw the name of one winner for each state. Those 50 winners will fly to New York City to be part of the ceremonies at the statue on the weekend of July 4; one winner may read his or her essay on national television.
Ms. McCauley said she is also encouraging schools to plan activities around Oct. 28, the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the statue, and the day on which it will be rededicated.
A version of this article appeared in the February 19, 1986 edition of Education Week