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JU Public Policy Institute Director Rick Mullaney welcomes the crowd at the first round of Jacksonville sheriff debates at Terry Concert Hall.

Public Policy Institute wraps up banner year

The Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute finishes an extraordinary year of progress in 2015, with substantive political debates, a much-cited inaugural GOP primary poll, important lectures, the conferring of the first MPP degrees in the history of Florida, and more. Here are some of the highlights of the past 12 months:

  1. Master in Public Policy (MPP) degrees – In April, Jacksonville University conferred the first MPP degrees in the history of Florida. Also conferred were the first MPP-Juris Doctor (JD) dual degrees in the state. Harvard conferred the first MPP degrees in the country in 1971. This is a signature accomplishment for MPP students, Jacksonville University, the Public Policy Institute, and the Board of Advisors.
  2. Former Gov. Mitt Romney Commencement Address at JU – 2012 GOP Presidential nominee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney accepted an invitation from JU PPI to give the Spring 2015 commencement address at JU. The former governor was able to congratulate the first MPP graduates at commencement.
  3. Televised Debates – For the first time in the 81-year history of JU, there were live, televised debates from the JU campus. In a growing partnership, JU PPI and WJXT  TV-4 co-hosted four live televised debates in March and May – in the primary and general elections for the Jacksonville Mayor’s and Sheriff’s races. There are plans to host future debates.
  4. Presidential Poll – Following the recommendations of PPI board members, the Institute launched its first poll in September. The poll for the Republican Presidential primary in Florida, which found a major shakeup among the frontrunners, received local, statewide and national coverage. It was cited in Real Clear Politics, the Washington Post, MSNBC, the Hill, Politico, and more than 30 other publications. It was covered on television, print, radio and online. JU PPI hopes to make polling a defining part of the work of the Institute.
  5. Policy Matters Lecture Series – The former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, James Smith, and his wife, Dr. Janet Breslin-Smith, who taught at the U.S. National War College, gave insightful, nuanced and thoughtful presentations in the first-ever Policy Matters Lecture Series presentation. Sponsored by St. Vincent’s HealthCare, the lecture was covered by WJXT and the Florida Times-Union, attended by more than 200 people and received extraordinary praise from many attending.
  6. Policy Matters Radio Show – In partnership with WJCT 89.9 FM, JU PPI Director Rick Mullaney hosts an hour-long live radio show called Policy Matters. In 2015, guests included internationally regarded water policy expert James Workman, City Council President Greg Anderson, and Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams.
  7. Hosting Community Events – Governor and Mayor – At the request of the Governor,  JU PPI hosted the Governor’s Commission on Healthcare Policy and Hospital Funding in July at JU (four meetings were held statewide). In addition, JU PPI hosted Mayor Lenny Curry’s Mayoral Transition Committees (May through early July) and will host a Mayoral town hall meeting at JU on the Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) this month. JU PPI also hosts other groups, including the Children’s Commission.
  8. JU PPI Television Commentary – In 2015, local television media began turning more and more to JU PPI for expert commentary on public policy and politics. Since March 1, JU PPI Director Rick Mullaney has appeared more than 30 times on television, particularly WJXT,  to provide expert commentary. The exposure had a value worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to the University, according to a study by an MPP student.
  9. World Affairs Council Partnership, Third Annual Hesburgh Lecture, Board Guest  – James Workman, Dr. Richard Jensen (Economics Department Head at Notre Dame), and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry all came to JU PPI in 2015.  JU PPI was very pleased to partner with the World Affairs Council and host internationally renowned water policy expert James Workman in March, partner with Notre Dame for the Third Annual Hesburgh Lecture this past fall with economist Dr. Richard Jensen, and host Mayor Lenny Curry as our special guest at the October board meeting.
  10. MPP ProgramThere are now 31 students in the MPP program. In addition, with the first graduation class and summer internships completed in 2015, MPP students are receiving diverse job offers. In 2015, this includes offers from the Jacksonville Civic Council, Jacksonville Public Education Fund (JPEF) and Homeland Security. In addition, MPP student capstone projects are diverse and adding value to public policy research and problem solving. Topics include education infrastructure in Duval County (capital infrastructure  and technology), CRAs and the revitalization of Arlington, the Clean Air Act regulations and impact on JEA and North Florida, drones, pension reform, cyber bulling, criminal justice reform, and many other topics. The MPP curriculum – with its first-year core courses, summer internship, law school class requirement and capstone project in the second year.

The Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute seeks to shape the future through preparing a new generation of leaders with public policy expertise, and by providing a neutral gathering place for public policy discussion, education and debate. The Institute believes in the power of public policy matters to shape the future of cities, states and nations. Offering the only Master in Public Policy degree program in Florida, JU PPI prepares its graduates for leadership roles in the public, private and non-profit sectors. Learn more about JU PPI and the MPP degree at www.ju.edu/ppi.