Mike Lawrence, Director, 2004-2008

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Mike Lawrence
Mike Lawrence was named director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University in October, 2004. He joined the institute as associate director in 1997. In addition to serving as director, he taught classes in both the political science and journalism departments. He retired on November 1, 2008.

Prior to joining SIU, Lawrence was press secretary and senior policy adviser to Governor Jim Edgar for nearly a decade. He joined Edgar's staff after working as a journalist for 25 years. During his newspaper career, he specialized in Illinois state government and politics. Lawrence served stints as managing editor and editorial page editor of the Quad-City Times and wrote a political column that was syndicated to more than 40 newspapers in Illinois.

Lawrence capped his newspaper career as chief of the state capital bureaus for Lee Enterprises and the Chicago Sun-Times.

He was honored by the Associated Press Editors Association for exemplary service to other journalists and newspapers in Illinois and received the Paul Simon Award for Public Service from the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

Lawrence was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1998 from Knox College, his alma mater.

He served on the Illinois Courts Commission, which decides cases in which disciplinary charges have been brought against judges. He and the former president of Governors' State University were the first non-judges appointed to serve on that commission. He also served as one of only three members on the State Board of Ethics.

Lawrence is married and the father of two children.

In 2010, the Institute honored Mike by creating the Mike Lawrence Scholarship to honor student ambassadors at the Institute.