The Institute's Mission

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Simon Lawrence


The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale acts on significant and controversial issues impacting the region, the state, the nation, and the world.

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.

The institute focuses its efforts on fostering:

  • Ethical conduct in government
  • Opportunity and fair treatment for people in America and throughout the world
  • Promoting responsible citizenship for all Americans--but particularly for young Americans


Founded in 1997 by Paul Simon, a former two-term U.S. Senator from Illinois and one-time candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute differentiates itself from similar organizations by working directly with elected officials and others to fashion and implement change in public policy. 

Many of these organizations are considered "think tanks," which is not a title that aptly describes the Paul Simon Institute. Paul Simon spoke of his institute as a "do tank" because it seeks--and achieves--positive results and concrete actions based on its work.

Simon established this nonpartisan institute to maintain this fundamental difference from virtually all other organizations of its kind. It does so by asking two important questions:

  • Can anything be accomplished by our taking on this project?
  • Is our involvement differentiated from other organizations' work on this subject?

By asking these questions, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute determines its potential to make a real difference in society before taking on the responsibility to address any given issue.

Want to know more about the history of the Institute?

Read about previous directors >

Mike Lawrence
Institute Director 

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David Yepsen
Institute Director

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