Panel Discussion to Focus on Civility in Politics

May 01, 2011

The Ralph and Mary Regula Center for Public Service and Civic Engagement at the University of Mount Union, The Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at The University of Akron and the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University have joined together in a public/private collaboration to address some of today’s most pressing political issues.
 
Their first event, a panel discussion, will be held Friday, May 6 in Presser Recital Hall on Mount Union’s campus. Registration and breakfast will begin at 9 a.m., with a panel discussion beginning at 9:30 a.m. The panel will draw on its long experience with Ohio politics to compare present-day politics to the recent past, widely believed to have been an era of more civil public discourse.
 
Dr. John GreenDr. John Green, director of the Bliss Institute, will serve as the panel moderator. Green is a distinguished professor of political science at the University of Akron and a senior research advisor with the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. A respected analyst of American and Ohio politics, he is published extensively on political parties, campaign finance, religion and politics and Ohio elections. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in economics from the University of Colorado and a doctoral degree in political science from Cornell University. After responding to prepared questions, the panelists will take questions from the audience. 
 
Aside from an engaging panel discussion, the May 6 event will inaugurate a summer research project by faculty and students at all three institutions on civility, with the results to be released in fall 2011.
 
“We will bring solid evidence to bear on the issue of civility, dispelling myths and offering ideas for improvement,” says Dr. Stuart Mendel, assistant dean of the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University.
 
Panelists will include:
 
Nancy HollisterNancy Hollister
Former Lieutenant Governor of Ohio
 
Throughout her professional career, Hollister has served in both the state and local governments. She served as a state representative in the Ohio House of Representatives, lieutenant governor of the State of Ohio and director in the governor’s office of Appalachia. On a local level, she served as a member of the Ohio City Council and mayor of the City of Marietta. She is currently president of Betsey Mills Corporation and a member of the Friends of Museums Board.
 
Lee LeonardLee Leonard
Retired Statehouse Reporter for the Columbus Dispatch
 
In the 1960s, Leonard began his career with United Press International (UPI) and covered the capitol in Harrisburg, PA. He became Statehouse bureau manager in Columbus in 1969 and in the 1970s was voted one of the 20 most-respected UPI bylines in a nationwide survey of the wire service’s subscribers. He covered 11 national political conventions and a wide variety of campaigns as well as reported on state government at the Ohio Statehouse for 22 years for UPI and 14 years for the Columbus Dispatch, retiring in 2005.
 
His book, A Columnist's View of Capitol Square, published by The University of Akron Press, gives an overview of Ohio government and politics for 36 years. The New Jersey native is a graduate of Cornell University.
 
Dr. Tom SuddesDr. Tom Suddes
Statehouse Columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer
Adjunct Assistant Professor at Ohio University
 
Suddes has spent his entire career in the journalism realm, as he has served in many editorial roles at the Chicago Sun-Times, Des Moines Register and Tribune, Foster's Daily Democrat, Clarion-Ledger and the Jackson Daily News. He began at The Plain Dealer in 1982 as chief legislative correspondent, and in 1988 he assumed the roles of state desk reporter, Statehouse reporter and Columbus bureau chief. He is currently a columnist on Ohio politics for The Plain Dealer, The Columbus Dispatch, Dayton Daily News and Springfield News-Sun, and associate editor and member of the editorial board of The Plain Dealer. From 1991-1992 he served as president of Ohio Legislative Correspondents Association.
 
Ranked as Cleveland Free Time’s number one local journalist, Suddes is a chapter author of Ohio Politics. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and master and doctoral degrees from Ohio University.
 
Pat SweeneyPat Sweeney
Former Minority Leader in the Ohio Senate
Assistant to the Vice President of Governmental Relations at Cleveland State University
 
Sweeney’s long career in both the House and Senate has been highlighted by roles as majority whip, assistant majority leader and minority leader. He has been a delegate or alternate to several Democratic National Conventions, was an advance man for U.S. Vice President Hubert Humphrey, member of the Jimmy Carter finance council and Ohio chairman of the presidential campaign of Al Gore. Over the years, he was the chairman of the Legislative Budget Committee and chairman of The House Finance and Appropriations Committee. He served on the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors, the Ohio Controlling Board, the Development Finance Board, the Legislative Service Commission and the Ohio Arts Council.
 
Aside from his duties at Cleveland State, he also is president of PASCo Consultants, a public policy advocacy group, and director of The Ohio Institute of Public Service. A veteran of the United States Air Force, Sweeney earned a master of public administration degree from The Kennedy School at Harvard University and an honorary doctor of law degree from Cleveland State University.
 
This new collaboration between public and private institutions draws on the special expertise of each institution: the Bliss Institute on the political process, the Levin College on public policy and the Regula Center on public service and civic engagement.
 
“We believe this partnership will offer new opportunities for the study of pressing issues before the state,” says Harry Paidas, interim director of the Regula Center at Mount Union.
               
The May 6 panel discussion is free and open to the public. For more information or to register, call Chris Pontius at Mount Union at (330) 823-5993.
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