Alumni CLASnotes Spring 2006
In This Issue:

Celebrating Civics

Graham Launches Public Policy Center

Bob Graham overlooking Pugh Hall's grand lobby.
Bob Graham overlooking Pugh Hall's grand lobby.
An all-star cast of political icons recently gathered on campus to celebrate the grand opening of the Bob Graham Center for Public Service. Three former Florida governors, a Pulitzer Prize winning historian and two U.S. Senators were among the participants in a week of festivities held to formally kick off the new center March 3–6.

“All great public universities have a noted public policy center,” said University President Bernie Machen during the dedication ceremony. “Now we join them.”

"I think it is a great idea to bring together students to discuss policy issues and give them an understanding of the good things government can do. It is very reflective of Senator Graham and his interests."
- Madeleine Albright

Following his retirement from public office in 2005, former Florida governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham—who earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from UF in 1959—announced his desire to create a public leadership center at his alma mater. Named in his honor, the Graham Center for Public Service exists to foster public leadership and examine issues related to the Americas and homeland security.

“The primary mission of the Graham Center will be to prepare current and future Floridians for effective and honorable public service,” Graham said. “The center is accomplishing this through the extensive educational resources of the University of Florida, internships and other forms of experience learning, and exposure to persons who exemplify civic and public service.”

The center currently offers an undergraduate certificate in public leadership, which enrolled its inaugural class of students in January 2007, and is developing bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in public policy. The center has also partnered with the Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government at the University of Central Florida to promote civics education in Florida’s K–12 classrooms.

“I think it is a great idea to bring together students to discuss policy issues and give them an understanding of the good things government can do,” said former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright during a visit to campus hosted by the center March 26. “It is very reflective of Senator Graham and his interests.”

As the Albright visit indicates, the center serves as a magnet that attracts big names in American politics and public policy to Florida. This spring, a distinguished list of political leaders has kept the spotlight on the university. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough, author of Truman and John Adams, gave a public lecture centered on America’s educational system, while scholar Donald Critchlow, author of The Conservative Ascendancy: How the GOP Right Made Political History, discussed civic engagement and modern conservatives.
Just in time for the 2008 presidential election, the center has organized a lecture series on The Path to the White House. U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., laid out “The Next President’s Agenda” in a public forum in March. A month later, New York Times Magazine reporter Matt Bai and Democratic campaign worker Joe Trippi debated “Media and the Presidency.”

Looking ahead to the fall, Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean will discuss the “2008 Primaries” on September 5, while Florida Governor Charlie Crist will speak on “The Next President and Florida” on October 3. All events are free and open to the public, and alumni are encouraged to return to campus and attend.

“The center’s ability to achieve its objectives will be based on a strong foundation of support from students, faculty, alumni and the entire Gator Nation,” said Graham.

For more information on the center, visit

--> home     --> top