COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Former U.S. Sen. Rob Portman is joining forces with the University of Cincinnati to create a new academic center that will foster civility, open and inclusive dialogue and bipartisanship in politics, the Republican and the university announced Tuesday.
The newly established Portman Center for Policy Solutions will be housed within the university’s School of Public and International Affairs. Through academic programming, fellowships and case studies, it aims to develop future leaders and encourage “results-oriented public service,” a statement said.
“I view this center as a way to encourage young people to engage in public service that focuses on civility, bipartisanship and finding common ground,” Portman said. “Too many are understandably turned off by excessive partisanship, gridlock and harsh language in today’s political dialogue.”
Portman opted not to seek reelection last year after three decades in public service, citing his dismay over partisanship and gridlock in Washington. Known as a political moderate willing to work across party lines, he boasted a prolific lawmaking record that included bills signed by both Democratic and Republican presidents.
The center was approved by the university's board Tuesday, following unanimous backing from the faculty. It will offer scholarships, internships and co-op opportunities for students chosen as Portman Fellows, drawing from an endowment that Portman and the university are working to grow to at least $5 million.
Portman also is donating his U.S. House and Senate papers and other materials to the center, for use by fellows as case studies in civil, bipartisan problem-solving that seeks out differing points of view.
The university said the Portman Center will be more intensely focused on civility in politics than two other public policy programs named for former Ohio senators: the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State University and the (George) Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service at Ohio University.