May 12, 2020
Phoenix—The Goldwater Institute has a new avenue to defend our founding principles and instill those values into our next generation of Americans—the Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy.
In what is the largest gift in the Goldwater Institute’s history, Barbara and Logan Van Sittert have generously funded this permanent center—the second of its kind at the Institute. Thanks to the Van Sitterts’ vision, the Goldwater Institute will be able to greatly expand its work in defending constitutional rights and promoting an understanding, appreciation, and support for the U.S. Constitution.
Dr. Barbara Van Sittert reflected on why this cause is so important to her and what she hopes the Center will accomplish. “I was born and brought up on a 200-acre Iowa farm during the Great Depression and World War II,” Barbara recalled. “When my dad graduated from agriculture college in 1931, the job waiting for him was gone, so he returned to farming to support our family. My mom tended the orchard, planted the garden, and canned our food. They made a good life through hard work and initiative in a country where they were free to succeed. Those are the principles Logan and I want to uphold well into the future, and I can think of no better place than the Goldwater Institute to do it.”
The Goldwater Institute is ready to put the Van Sitterts’ vision into action. Matt Beienburg, the Institute’s current Director of Education Policy, will serve as Director of the Center. Beienburg will lead the Van Sittert Center in a long list of projects as part of the Goldwater Institute’s mission to broaden an appreciation and understanding of the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. The Center’s initial projects will include:
- Widely distributing to schools and other educational and related organizations—in both English and Spanish—the Arizona Constitution. Van Sittert Center personnel will also speak with students across the state about the meaning and importance of both the Arizona and U.S. Constitutions.
- Recording instances of unprecedented restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic from all levels of government, including the shuttering of businesses, home confinement, and bans on public assembly. The Van Sittert Center will develop policy recommendations—against the loss of such freedoms—in times of national crisis.
Logan Van Sittert said, “This Center will help ensure that the importance of documents such as the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights are not lost on future generations. The Van Sittert Center is our opportunity to permanently promote the principles that make America the model for all freedom-loving people everywhere.”
Goldwater Institute President and CEO Victor Riches said that the Van Sitterts’ gift will have a tremendous impact in Arizona and across the country for generations to come. “Barbara and Logan’s dedication to preserving the constitutional principles that have made our country great is second to none,” Riches said. “The Goldwater Institute is proud to be home to the Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy, and we are eager to begin the hard work of realizing Barbara and Logan’s vision for a strong, free and prosperous America.”
About the Goldwater Institute
The Goldwater Institute drives results by working daily in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and strengthen the freedom guaranteed to all Americans in the constitutions of the United States and all 50 states. With the blessing of its namesake, the Goldwater Institute opened in 1988. Its early years focused on defending liberty in Barry Goldwater’s home state of Arizona. Today, the Goldwater Institute is a national leader for constitutionally limited government respected by the left and right for its adherence to principle and real-world impact. No less a liberal icon than the New York Times calls the Goldwater Institute a “watchdog for conservative ideals” that plays an “outsize role” in American political life.