Born in Avon, South Dakota, the son of a Methodist minister, George McGovern graduated from Dakota Wesleyan University before coming to Evanston. After studying at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and becoming a student minister, McGovern began graduate study in history at Northwestern University and completed his Ph.D. in 1953. Returning to his home state, he was elected U.S. Representative in 1956 and 1958, and then served three terms as U.S. Senator from 1962 to 1980. In 1972, McGovern was the Democratic Party presidential candidate, but lost the election to Richard Nixon. McGovern has held visiting professorships at a number of universities, including Northwestern, and delivered the annual Richard W. Leopold Lecture at Northwestern in 2000.