Palm Beach Atlantic announces LeMieux Center for Public Policyby Andrew Abramson | December 7th, 2012
Former Sen. George LeMieux and Palm Beach Atlantic University president William Fleming today announced the creation of the LeMieux Center for Public Policy.
LeMieux, who served in the Senate for 16 months from 2009 to 2010, said the center at the private West Palm Beach university will be broken into three phases.
The first phase, beginning in Spring 2013, will bring a lecture and speaker series to Palm Beach Atlantic which will feature “notable folks from public life — from journalists, academia and public office.” LeMieux announced that former Sen. Bob Graham will be one of the speakers.
The second phase, beginning in Fall 2013, will include a Fellowship Program. Two upperclassmen students will work with LeMieux to “tackle issues of great public importance.” The students will write a paper on the topic and “find solutions for these problems we face and then publish the paper to the entire student body at the end of the year.”
The third phase, beginning in Summer 2014, will include an internship programs where Palm Beach Atlantic students will work with leaders in Washington, Tallahassee and leaders in the business world and not-for-profit world.
LeMieux, the former Chief of Staff to Gov. Charlie Crist, was appointed to the Senate by Crist in 2009 when Sen. Mel Martinez retired. LeMieux served 16 months in the Senate and agreed not to run for the seat in 2010 so Crist could have a clear path to the Senate. But LeMieux ended up backing Marco Rubio when Crist left the GOP for an independent candidacy.
LeMieux attempted a return to the Senate earlier this year, but dropped out of the race in June and endorsed Connie Mack IV, who lost to Bill Nelson.
Shortly before leaving office in 2010, LeMieux donated his papers from his time in office to Palm Beach Atlantic.
Fleming said today that LeMieux is the first of 35 Floridians to serve in the Senate to have donated his papers to a private university.
“I know the LeMieux Center will sharpen our focus at Palm Beach Atlantic and certainly in this region and state as we mold and sharpen new citizens,” Fleming said.
Although LeMieux didn’t attend Palm Beach Atlantic he said “I have come to believe that this is a very special place in Florida and America. It’s an institution that tries to teach the whole student — not just academically but ethically and spiritually.”
LeMieux, who serves as the Chairman of the Board of the Gunster law firm, said he will continue to work at Gunster and will use the center as his way of remaining in public life. He said he has no current plans to run for office again although he said “we’ll see.”
Fleming said the center will be funded by the university but will also be funded through donations and grants.
“We are integrating this into the existing programs, faculty expertise and outreach efforts of Palm Beach Atlantic University,” Fleming said. “But in order to advance the goals of the LeMieux Center of Public Policy and its expertise we will offer, both locally and nationally we will seek additional funding which will resource it and strengthen it.”
LeMieux said the center won’t just benefit Palm Beach Atlantic students.
“We will open the doors of the university not to just the students but to the community at large to seek to engage them in discussions and conversations and problem solving of what we will be about,” LeMieux said. “We will look for support for this program from the private sector and from the public at large.”