New Public Policy Institute Established

Bryan Jones

Photo courtesy of JU Marketing

Amongst the construction occurring all over campus, one idea that Jacksonville University President Kerry Romesburg has been toying with for a few years is coming to fruition. Through discussions with former mayoral candidate Rick Mullaney, a new Public Policy Institute will be created at JU. Mullaney will be the founding director of the Institute.

According to a press release from JU, Romesburg praised Mullaney’s positive attributes.

“Rick is the perfect individual for leading the creation of the Public Policy Institute at Jacksonville University,” said Romesburg. “He has a great passion for Jacksonville, for the policy making process and for students. This Institute will not only provide our students the opportunity to discover the intricacies of policy-making, but also create a vital link for community leaders and academics to discuss critical issues.”

According to the same press release, the Institute will be focused on building the first master’s degree in public policy (MPP) in Florida with the goal of having a master’s degree program in place for fall 2013.

Mullaney will be joining JU with a strong background. He was the former General Counsel for the City of Jacksonville, chief of staff for former Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney, assistant state attorney and recent mayoral candidate. He lost the election to JU alumni Alvin Brown.

According to the press release, Mullaney is looking forward to working with the faculty, administration and community affiliated with JU.

“We have the opportunity to build this Public Policy Institute to be the hub for many important discussions and development of many influential leaders,” said Mullaney. “The expertise on this campus will be the base for the first masters degree in public policy in Florida and will attract students and leaders for many years to come.”

The Institute will be comprised of three arms, according to Derek Hall, Vice President for University Relations and External Affairs. First, with faculty approval, interdisciplinary public policy courses will be developed in the areas of political sciences, economics and leadership. Second, the Institute will provide community programs and forums, including an annual conference that will bring leaders and academics together to discuss important local issues. Third, the Institute will provide executive courses, certificates and training programs that are focused on mid-career professional, public and nonprofit employees, elected officials and those seeking to run for office.

Hall also mentioned a 4th benefit, which will be Mullaney’s role as the pre-law advisor. According to the press release, Mullaney served as a legal and public policy advisor for nearly 20 years to the Austin, Delaney and Peyton administrations and is a member of the Board of Directors for the St. Vincent’s Health Care System and immediate past chair of the Board of Directors for St. Vincent’s Health Care Foundation. He is also the vice-chair of the Board of Directors for Gateway Community Services and a member of the ALS Regional Council. Mullaney has taught business law and criminal procedure at the University of North Florida. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a Juris Doctorate, both from the University of Florida.

“Anyone interested in law needs to go sit down with him,” Hall said.

In addition to plans to develop the master’s degree, there is support for joint degrees opportunities with JU’s MBA and marine sciences programs as well as with Florida Coastal School of Law, according to the press release. With faculty approval, these joint degrees programs would be the first in the State of Florida.

“The Public Policy Institute will actually be something very different,” said Stephen Baker, a professor of political science.

“As a political science major I see the uniqueness in this program,” said Lauren Johnson, a senior and the treasurer of the political science society. “I plan on attending law school one day and maybe becoming involved in the political arena, and having a degree in Public Policy could potentially be beneficial to my future.”