Today, in a symposium bringing statewide policy experts together, the LeRoy Collins Institute at Florida State University is formally recognizing its 25th anniversary. The Institute, a non-partisan research organization that strives to embody the legacy of Florida’s famed Governor LeRoy Collins through innovative policy research and solutions, is honoring the forward-thinking governing style of Governor Collins by highlighting his legacy of courage and leadership and how it might guide current and future Florida leaders.
“We are extremely pleased to be celebrating 25 years of applied research that has had a great impact on smarter policymaking in Florida,” said Lester Abberger, Chairman of the LeRoy Collins Institute Board. “To honor this milestone anniversary, we are revisiting the legacy of Governor Collins, a visionary leader, and how his principles can continue to guide us today as we undertake impactful research to solve the myriad of issues our state faces.”
The LeRoy Collins Institute was founded in 1988, after Sandy D’Alemberte and Jim Apthorp took the idea of creating an endowed chair in Collins’ name and transformed it into the framework for a policy research center. Endowments from generous donors allowed the Institute to continue developing forward-thinking solutions for Florida’s policy makers over the past 25 years.
One of the organization’s key tools for disseminating thought-provoking research is the Tough Choices series. Since the first report in 2005 on state revenues and expenditures, the series has provided ground-breaking research on pension plans, health care for retirees, and state ethics. In honor of the 25th anniversary, the original Tough Choices report, Tough Choices: Shaping Florida’s Future, is being updated with the latest information on issues in Florida ranging from infrastructure to Medicaid to education.
“With every Tough Choices report, we answer questions on issues of importance to the state that policymakers can draw upon to make informed decisions,” said Carol Weissert, director of the LeRoy Collins Institute and political science professor at Florida State University. “Like Governor Collins, we strive to be an organization that can take an issue and, putting partisanship aside, conduct research that leads to rational, forward-thinking solutions.”
The Institute is publishing LeRoy Collins’ Legacy: The Politics of Constructive Change and Leadership, a special report chronicling the life and public service of one of Florida’s most revered governors. Additionally, the 25th anniversary symposium will debut a video on Governor Collins touching on the landmark moments of his time in the political arena and remembering the ways in which his leadership inspired policymakers who followed.
“With the essay and the video, we hope to reintroduce to Florida citizens one of Florida’s most influential leaders,” said Weissert. “No matter the issue, big or small, no matter what he was up against, Governor Collins always sought to do what was right – and he ended up creating many of the building blocks of the Florida we know today. His passion for this state was, and remains, unrivaled. The Institute is proud to celebrate 25 years of success in research and policy solutions by highlighting the Collins legacy and continuing to honor Governor Collins by working to make Florida a better place.”