Speaking up at the Senior Staff Conference Table on the 5th floor in the Maiatico Building, surrounded by the Mad Men & Mad Women, Bob Gale told Shriver and the others that Sam Babbitt’s ‘gentleman’ approach to recruiting wasn’t working. In a way (to use today’s terminology), the Peace Corps wasn’t a ‘brand’; it had not established its value with college students where most of the recruits for the new Peace Corps were to be found. “Off the top of my head,” recalled Gale, “I said, I’d get the college administrators and the faculty fully on our side, get them involved. I’d alert the campus newspaper and the campus radio station. I’d co-opt office space in the Student Union–that’s where a lot of the action is at a big university. I’d send out from Washington senior staff and famous names….”
Shriver stopped him. He pounded the table with his fist, startling Gale who wasn’t familiar with Sarge’s ways. Then came, Shriver’s famous hoot: “T’rffic!” he yelled, and ordered Gale to start campaigning in a week, or sooner.
“Wait!” protested Gale, alarmed by Shriver’s sudden enthusiasm. “Sarge, it will take….”
Thinking fast and furiously, Gale replied, “I’d pick the University of Wisconsin in two weeks.” He picked Wisconsin because he knew most of the top administrators and knew, too, that the college was a “swinging” school.
Gale’s great compliment to anyplace or anyone was that they were ‘swinging.’ To him that meant progressive, lively, politically aware. To Bob Gale the University was a Peace Corps ‘natural’ and it was in Wisconsin where he launched the famous Peace Corps ‘blitz’ recruiting that changed the Peace Corps.