Paul Simon Public Policy Institute

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Paul Simon Public Policy Institute
Founder(s) Paul Simon
Established 1997
Mission It is committed to developing and working to implement approaches that could bring concrete, positive results in tackling some of the most difficult challenges in the public policy arena.[1]
Staff 10+
Formerly called Public Policy Institute
Location Carbondale, IL
Address 1231 Lincoln Dr. Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, IL 62901
Website [1]

The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute is located at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. It was founded by Paul Simon, a former two-term U.S. Senator from Illinois and one-time candidate for the Democratic Party (United States) nomination for President of the United States. Opening in 1997, the Institute differentiates itself from similar organizations by working directly with elected officials and others to fashion and implement change in public policy.

The institute is bipartisan and sponsors many on-campus programs featuring state and local politicians, educators, entrepreneurs, and many others. Throughout the year, the institute hosts lectures, and conferences around relevant topics featuring significant and controversial issues impacting the region, the state, the nation, and the world. The institute also conducts two polls throughout the year: Simon Institute Poll and the Southern Illinois Poll.

Being located at SIUC, the Institute offers a variety of opportunities for students, including the Paul Simon Institute Ambassadors, which allows students to network and volunteer their time in assisting the Institute staff in outreach efforts to the campus and community.

The current director of the institute is David Yepsen, who, before joining the Institute, had a 34 year career with the Des Moines Register, serving as the paper’s chief political writer, political editor and political columnist. As part of his work, he was deeply involved in the paper’s coverage of presidential caucus campaigns in the state. Before Yepsen's arrival in 2009, Mike Lawrence, press secretary and senior policy adviser to Governor Jim Edgar for nearly a decade, served as director from October 2004 to November 2008. Simon served as Institute director from 1997 to his death in 2003. Simon died in Springfield, Illinois following heart surgery at 75 in 2003.


Paul Simon lived for many years in the small town of Makanda, south of Carbondale, where he was a professor and director of the SIU Public Policy Institute. There, he worked to foster the Institute into becoming a thinktank that could advance the lives of all people. Activities included going to Liberia and Croatia to monitor their elections, bringing major speakers to campus, denouncing the death penalty, trying to end the United States embargo against Cuba,[2] fostering political courage among his students, and promoting amendments to the Constitution to end the Electoral College and to limit the president to a single six-year term of office. Concerning the Electoral College during the controversial Election 2000 fiasco, Simon said, "I think if somebody gets the majority vote, they should be president. But, I don't think the system is going to be changed."

Simon believed modern presidents practice "followship" rather than leadership: "We have been more and more leaning on polls to decide what we're going to do, and you don't get leadership from polls... and not just at the presidential level. It's happening with senators, House members and even state legislators sometimes [when they] conduct polls to find out where people stand on something."[3]


External links[edit]

David Yepsen, director