To walk into Rep. Jerry Lewis Rayburn Building office on Capitol Hill is to enter a virtual shrine of UCLA memorabilia.

s the UCLA chair. Theres a Bruin cap on a shelf. A UCLA mouse pad is next to the computer. Scattered throughout are numerous stuffed Bruin bears. Check out the congressmans Web site and theres a link, in Bruin blue, to UCLA.

And then theres Bruin himself, Lewis fluffy, white, snowball-shaped 3-year-old bichon frisé-poodle mix, who was a gift from his wife, Arlene, and is a constant companion both in the office and out.

There was no discussion about the name, says Lewis 56. It was automatic.

Indeed, Lewis never misses a chance to give a nod to his alma mater.

And indeed it is good to have friends in high places, and Lewis place is among the highest. With 25 years on The Hill, Lewis has risen to become the third-ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee and chair of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, a perch from which he is largely responsible for managing the $400-plus- billion Defense Department budget.

As one of the most powerful men in Washington, Lewis has been instrumental in helping UCLA at times of great need. When the Northridge earthquake hit the Los Angeles region in 1994, Lewis came to UCLA to tour the damaged campus with James Lee Witt, then director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. With Lewis assistance, FEMA funding was secured to assist with the restoration of Powell Library and Royce Hall.

If not for Jerry Lewis, there would be a whole generation of students who missed the experience of higher education in those magnificent campus buildings, says Chancellor Albert Carnesale. He was enormously helpful in securing the funding to keep us up and running following the earthquake.

Lewis also helped UCLA to secure FEMA funding to build a new hospital to replace UCLA Medical Center, which was badly damaged in the quake. The new hospital is scheduled for completion by the end of 2005.

Congressman Lewis has really been a leader and an advocate for all of higher education, particularly in support of science and research, notes Keith Parker, assistant vice chancellor for government and community relations. He has a tremendous sense of pride and loyalty for UCLA.

This was a busy fall for Congressman Lewis. In late September, he led the first congressional delegation to visit Iraq since the United States launched its military attack in March. When he returned, Lewis spearheaded the adoption of President George W. Bushs $87-billion supplemental spending bill to fund the war and resupply U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. With the ink barely dry on that bill, he was at the presidents side a few weeks later as Bush signed an emergency spending measure to provide disaster-relief funds to victims of the devastating fires in Southern California.

Despite his stature as one of the elite members of the College of Cardinals — the appellation given to the chairs of the 13 appropriations subcommittees — Lewis remains remarkably grounded, and his responsiveness to his constituents in the 41st Congressional District, which includes most of San Bernardino County and parts of Riverside County, has earned him a reputation as a politician for the people. Throughout his career, Lewis has remained true to those individuals and institutions that have contributed to his success, and that includes the university from which he graduated.

The son of an engineer and one of five children, Lewis grew up in a small house in San Bernardino. This spring, at the dedication of the Jerry Lewis Family Swim Center in his hometown, he recalled how as a kid he and his three brothers would collect bobby pins around the pool to trade for free passes. Later, he worked as a locker boy and lifeguard at the pool.

Lewis had dreams of turning a love of animals into a career. He began studying veterinary science at UC Berkeley but soon decided it wasnt really for him. In the fall of 1954, he transferred to UCLA, majoring in political science. Closer to home, and closer to his true ambitions, Lewis quickly placed his name on the ballot for student-body president.

That takes quite a bit of chutzpah to come into a new school and run for student-body president, recalls classmate Ed Peck 56. Jerry always had a tremendous amount of confidence and always had his eyes on the prize.

That election may be the first and last that Lewis ever lost. He did, however, serve as junior-class president, becoming increasingly engaged, both intellectually and politically, at UCLA.

I used to work in the research laboratories at night and my political science professors would join me in the rat room to talk politics, Lewis recalls. One of those professors, Ivan Hinderaker, became a key mentor for Lewis. Hinderaker went on to serve as chancellor of UC Riverside from 1964 to 1979 and was a member of the Minnesota Legislature.

One of the most significant events of Lewis life occurred the summer following his transfer to UCLA, when he was selected to participate in Project India. Sponsored by UCLAs University Religious Conference, Project India sent 12 undergraduates and two faculty advisers to India for a summer to work with students in local communities.

The experience was an awakening for Lewis. Project India caused me to look at the world in a different way and to realize America has an ever-growing responsibility to effect change and to take a leadership role in the world, he says.

For part of the odyssey, a team of Look magazine journalists accompanied the Project India group, chronicling their journey in a 10-page feature, America at Its Best in India. On the cover of the February 1956 issue is a photograph of Lewis surrounded by cheering Indian students.

The Look photograph still brings a smile to the face of Bob Stein 56, a Project India alumnus. It is absolutely remarkable that Jerry has not changed, he says. The person you see in the picture is the same person I know today.

Even then, his friends recall, Lewis was forming his political persona. If he found himself in a disagreement, Jerry used patience and understanding in seeing the other side, but he was relentless in making his point, says Stein. He has the unique ability to make those of us who start out disagreeing ultimately agree with him.

Those abilities were honed in India, as was his dedication to public service. His Project India experience heightened Lewis awareness of fostering self-reliance and economic freedom and prompted Lewis decision to become a member of the Republican Party.

When an effective leader like Jerry Lewis credits his experience at UCLA for significantly and dramatically influencing his career and his way of viewing the world, it sends a message that UCLA is a place that prepares men and women who truly make a difference in society, Chancellor Carnesale proudly acknowledges.

Lewis began his public-service career in 1964 when he was elected to the San Bernardino Board of Education, on which he served for five years. He was then elected to the California State Assembly and served for a decade prior to winning a seat in Congress in 1978.

Since his early days in Congress, Lewis has been known as a consensus builder, and at times his bipartisan ways have led him down some difficult paths. As a freshman, I developed an early frustration with the existence of too much partisanship, he says. It was clear that if we develop effective partnerships, we can bring about long-range change.

One of Lewis greatest strengths has been his ability to look at every side of an argument and recognize why others might come to different conclusions, colleagues say.

He has always known, even though you have strong opinions, you never demonize or vilify those who hold different views, says former Rep. Vic Fazio (D-Calif.), who served with Lewis in the California Assembly and in Congress. We were on the moderate side of our respective parties, and we found a way to work together for the betterment of the nation and of our home state of California.

Lewis climbed the ranks of the House Republican leadership, and in 1996 he became the senior Republican in the California House delegation and was elected chair of the states 22-member Republican caucus. He is credited with establishing new lines of communication among the members, as well as with the Democratic caucus, and producing a newfound sense of collaboration and cooperation among the states 52-member delegation.

I emphasized Californians working together on California issues, says Lewis. I pushed for bipartisanship and for seeking alternative avenues to solutions.

Lewis laments how times have changed. More than half of the new members of my caucus have been in the majority since they arrived in Congress, he says. They dont know what compromise is, and they carry ideology to the point where it can interrupt working together.

During his 30-year career, former Rep. Lou Stokes (D-Ohio) worked closely with Lewis and knows firsthand how strongly Lewis embraces the notion of bipartisanship. The bills Jerry and I worked on were never in trouble, says Stokes. We worked out our individual problems. The system can work if more members of Congress would be willing to work together.

Stokes notes that working together across parties is even more important today. We are seeing the abandonment of traditions of Congress in terms of civility, and it really has the public perplexed, says Stokes. Jerry Lewis is one person who has always sacrificed partisanship in the interest of the American people and on behalf of the institution itself.

Since 1999, Lewis has chaired the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, managing the largest part of the nations discretionary budget each year. I never in my life expected to be in this position, he says. This is such a significant time in military history; we have really turned the armed forces around in recent years.

At the outset of his chairmanship, Lewis attracted national attention when his subcommittee voted unanimously to cut $1.8 billion from funding to build the first of six of the Air Forces prized F-22 stealth fighters. After a fierce battle, some of the funding was restored, and Lewis says the fight actually helped to improve communication between Congress and the Pentagon.

I have played a small role in insisting that our defense work take place in a nonpartisan environment, says Lewis. Our approach led to conflict and some tough discussions, and it has let the military know we are asking some serious questions.

As chair, Lewis was able to increase the annual appropriation for defense for the first time in more than a decade and has overseen annual increases for the past three years. But he is quick to downplay his accomplishments and his position of power in Washington. After a great week in Washington, I go home to California and I walk across my pool, he jokes. I still fall in every time.

Grady Bourn 96, who as a student interned in Lewis Washington office and has for the past three years been a legislative assistant and systems manager, says, It is no stretch to use the word family when you talk about this staff. He notes that while turnover is high in other Capitol Hill offices, many on Lewis staff have been with him for 10 to 20 years.

One of the congressmans big sayings is, Its amazing what you can accomplish when you dont worry about who is getting the credit, says Bourn. That really says it all about how he works.

Lewis was at the forefront of efforts to quickly pass an emergency spending bill to fight terrorism after Sept. 11. He has since helped President Bush pass four supplemental spending bills and has been one of the strongest supporters of the war in Iraq and international anti-terrorism efforts. Lewis has led congressional fact-finding delegations to the Middle East over the past few years, the most recent of which was in September to postwar Iraq.

I have never been more proud to be a member of Congress, says Lewis. Our delegation held a reception for members of the Coalition Council at a downtown Baghdad hotel, which was bombed that very morning. We were advised to cancel, but as it turned out, 40 to 50 members of the coalition, with a full range of political views, attended the reception.

Lewis describes standing on an Iraq hillside and seeing clothing remnants through the mounds of dirt. Throughout the country, those hills were the burial grounds for more than half-a-million people, he says. At the same time, you could see families still looking for remains or keepsakes from loved ones who had been killed.

Following the delegation visit, Lewis was prepared for a tough vote on emergency spending in Iraq, but all 17 members of the delegation, representing both parties and a broad range of attitudes, supported the presidents package.

From the wreckage of war-torn Iraq to the devastation in his own fire-ravaged district, Lewis is quick to make things happen. Hours after he learned about the outbreak of the Old fire in the San Bernardino Mountains in late October, Lewis was on a plane back to California.

He toured the fire areas and met with evacuees at San Bernardino International Airport. Lewis was personally touched by the tragedy; his son, Dan, lost his house in the foothill neighborhood of Waterman Canyon. Lewis returned to Washington late the next day to introduce a $500-million emergency spending measure for fire relief, to be attached to the Iraq supplemental appropriations bill.

Lewis continues to look for even more funds to help avoid further dangers like mudslides and another wildfire. Just months earlier, Lewis was key in securing funding to fight the widespread damage caused by the bark beetle, which has been destroying many of the beautiful, tall trees in the San Bernardino and Riverside mountain ranges.

The fire is a situation that makes you feel entirely helpless, says Lewis. I spent time with my son, who had to go from closet to closet, from room to room, to estimate replacement costs for his home and valuables. The personal loss is devastating.

Lewis dedication and commitment to public service has not gone unnoticed. Among his many honors and accolades, he received the 2001 Coro Fellows Award, along with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Coro is the preeminent leadership-training program for young Americans interested in public affairs, and the award honors program graduates for distinguished leadership. Lewis completed his fellowship in Los Angeles in 1957.

In 1996, Lewis was honored for his efforts in support of proton-radiation therapy at the dedication of a new research facility at Loma Linda University Medical Center. In 2000, his strong support for federal funding of university-based research earned Lewis the Champion of Science award from the Science Coalition, an organization of some 400 member-groups that promotes the expansion and strengthening of the federal governments commitment to university-based scientific, medical, engineering and agricultural exploration.

Research is key to the nations future economic stability and prosperity, and Rep. Lewis understands that if you want to advance society in many different areas, then you must be willing to make this type of investment, says Roberto Peccei, UCLA vice chancellor for research.

While in college, Lewis was an avid swimmer, and he still frequents the Capitol pool, sporting UCLA swim trunks. He describes his retreats to the pool as opportunities to clear the hot air of The Hill. It was while swimming laps that Lewis created The House That Congress Built, a partnership with Habitat for Humanity that engaged House members and their staffs to build more than 300 homes throughout the country.

Although his trips to the Westwood campus are rare these days, UCLA is always with Lewis. He recently introduced a House resolution to congratulate legendary Bruin basketball coach John Wooden on his Presidential Medal of Freedom award and to further commend him for his achievements in sports and education.

If one could only reflect a small part of the wisdom that John Wooden shared with his athletes and his colleagues, says Lewis. He is one of UCLAs great contributions to the world. In December, the basketball court in Pauley Pavilion was renamed the Nell and John Wooden Court.

Lewis also offered testimony when Jackie Robinson was nominated to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, reminding Congress that Robinson was one of the nations most important athletes during his college days at UCLA. Lewis quoted Robinson as saying: A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.

It is clear that Lewis has taken Robinsons words to heart.