Past Events

This is not a comprehensive archive, but, rather, a sample of the events we've hosted.



Speaker: Gwen Graham 

Former U.S. Representative Gwen Graham visited Jacksonville University to give the keybote address at the Winter Board of Advisors Meeting attended by the Public Policy Institute Board of Advisors, students, faculty, and guests. 



Adam Putnam, speaking to a crowdSpeaker: Adam Putnam April 21

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam visited Jacksonville University to give the keynote address at the Spring Board of Advisors Meeting attended by the Public Policy Institute Board of Advisors, students, faculty, and guests. Commissioner Putnam addressed issues he believes are the keys to making Florida a player in the global job market - namely education and water management. Putnam has a desire for educated, savvy individuals to come to Florida not at the end of their lives to retire, but to choose Florida as the place to settle at the beginning of their adult lives to work and raise their children.


Speaker: Bob Graham February 16

The JU PPI Board of Advisors meets three times per year to provide advisement and support to the Institute. At the winter meeting, we were pleased to welcome former U.S. Senator Bob Graham to meet with and address the MPP students and faculty, the JU PPI Board, and guests in attendance​.

Senator Graham is a graduate of Harvard Law School and served as Florida Governor from 1979 to 1987, US Senator from 1987 to 2005, and ran for President of the United States, seeking the 2004 Democratic nomination. When first running for governor of Florida in 1978, his signature campaign move was "The Graham Workday" where he trained for a job and then worked in that industry for a full day. He continued these workdays as governor and senator, putting in 386 workdays total in a wide variety of positions.

After retiring from politics, Senator Graham served as a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and was a Commissioner on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and Chairman of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. In 2010, Senator Graham was appointed as Co-Chair of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. In 2006, he created the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at University of Florida.



Lenny Curry, speakingSpeaker: Lenny Curry

In 2015, Mayor Lenny Curry was elected as the 8th mayor of the consolidated City of Jacksonville. Prior to his election, he practiced as a Certified Public Accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers and founded Jacksonville based professional services firm, ICX Group. He is the immediate past chair of the Republican Party of Florida and a South Jacksonville Rotarian. He was a Jacksonville Housing Commission Board member, a Commissioner of the Florida State Boxing Commission, and a Junior Achievement Board member. He has served as a Jacksonville Symphony Association Board member, a Southside United Methodist Church Finance Committee member, and as a big brother with Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

Mayor Curry discussed his first 90 days in office. He commented on the transition from campaign to service and extended thanks to several in the room for their advisement through that process. He also thanked the Public Policy Institute for hosting the transition subcommittee meetings over the summer. He covered several topics, including community involvement, public safety, and economy. He said that in coming months he would host series of community conversations as listening sessions on important topics, the first on possible expansion of Jacksonville's Human Rights Ordinance. He then discussed public safety as a top priority, highlighting Jacksonville Journey and the need to address public safety at all points of prevention, intervention, and enforcement. He then turned to Jacksonville's economic opportunities in JaxPort and commented that he favors deepening the St. Johns River to allow more trade to flow through Jacksonville.


Policy Matters Lecture Series November 30

On November 30, 2015, the JU Public Policy Institute hosted an evening with Mr. James B. Smith and his spouse, Dr. Janet Breslin-Smith. ​Mr. Smith was U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 2009 to 2013 and is also a retired brigadier general in the U.S. Air Force where he was an F-15 fighter pilot. Dr. Janet Breslin-Smith’s career has focused on higher education and outreach to women in the Middle East. She taught at the U.S. National War College and was the first woman to Chair the Department of National Security Strategy there.

The Smiths each gave a short presentation, and then audience members were given the opportunity to pose questions. This Q&A was moderated by Rick Mullaney, PPI director.

Watch the lecture video on YouTube.

Read more about Ambassador Smith and Dr. Breslin-Smith.

Ambassador James B. Smith Dr. Janet Breslin-Smith


Jacksonville Mayoral Transition

In May to July 2015, the Public Policy Institute was pleased to host the public meetings of Mayor Lenny Curry's transition team subcommittees at Jacksonville University. The eight subcommittees, totaling more than 100 members, each met twice weekly for four weeks to discuss matters affecting Jacksonville.


Jacksonville Mayoral Debate May 14

This live televised debate co-hosted by WJXT Channel 4 and the JU Public Policy Institute was held in the Terry Concert Hall at Jacksonville University​.​ Watch the full debate on WJXT Online​.​

Jacksonville Sheriffs Debate May 13

This live televised debate co-hosted by WJXT Channel 4 and the JU Public Policy Institute was held in the Terry Concert Hall at Jacksonville University​.​ Watch the full debate on WJXT Online.


Mitt Romney receiving an honorary doctorate at spring commencement.Commencement April 25

On April 25, 2015, Jacksonville University confered degrees upon the first Master in Public Policy graduates in our state. W​e are proud of the accomplishments of these policy analysts and look forward to seeing great work from them in the future. Former Massachusetts Governor and former Presidential Candidate ​Mitt Romney delivered the commencement keynote address. More information on Wave Magazine Online.


The Politics of Water March 24

Policy Matters Radio Show. On the March 2015 edition of WJCT's Policy Matters, PPI Director Rick Mullaney spoke with nationally renowned water resource and marine life experts James G. Workman, writer and Deputy Director of the Environmental Defense Fund's Catch Share Design, and Dr. Quint White, Director of Jacksonville University's Marine Science Research Institute.​ Listen to the broadcast​.

Global Business Luncheon​ March 23

Jacksonville University was pleased to co-host this eve​​nt with the World Affairs Council of Jacksonville as we welcomed Mr. James G. Workman, writer and Deputy Director, Environmental Defense Fund's Catch Share Design. This luncheon and conversation were moderated by Jacksonville University's own Dr. Quinton White of the Marine Science Research Institute and Mr. Rick Mullaney of the Public Policy Institute. Read more about Mr. Workman. Read more about MSRI.

Jacksonville Sheriffs Debate March 19

Live televised debate co-hosted by WJXT Channel 4 and the JU Public Policy Institute was held in the Terry Concert Hall at Jacksonville University​.​ Watch the debate on

Jacksonville Mayoral Debate March 18

Live televised debate co-hosted by WJXT Channel 4 and the JU Public Policy Institute was held in the Terry Concert Hall at Jacksonville University​.​ Watch the debate on



Juvenile Justice Policy Forum November 20

Forum on juvenile justice policy with panelist​s Judge Henry Davis, State Attorney Angela Corey, Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford, and Public Defender Matt Shirk. Topics will cover juvenile crime, direct filings, civic citations​, drug court, and Jacksonville Journey. Read more about the event at Wave Magazine Online. Read more at

Education Policy Conference November 12

This event, one of the premier education conferences in the state, drew students, faculty, policymakers, and community members together to discuss school choice, state accountability and assessment standards, Common Core, Next Generation Sunshine State Standards, low-performing Duval schools, FCAT 2.0, and more. Speakers included Gary Chartrand, Chair, Board of Education, Florida Department of Education; Pam Stewart, Commissioner on Education, Florida Department of Education; and Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent, Duval County Public Schools.


Hesburgh Lecture with Dr. Thomas Gresik October 30

In partnership with the Notre Dame Club of Greater Jacksonville, JU PPI hosts the Hesburgh Lecture series to bring presenters from Notre Dame University to speak in their areas of public policy expertise. Dr. Thomas Gresik, an economist and professor, discussed energy policy.

Children's Health Policy Symposium October 21

In partnership with the City of Jacksonville, JU PPI hosted the Children’s Health Symposi​um for elected officials and health industry leaders.​

Federal Legislators Panel October 16

U.S. House of Representatives Congresswoman Corrine Brown discussed several local and state issues, focusing on representation and education.

U.S. House of Representatives Congressman Ander Crenshaw discussed local and state issues including housing, job creation, national security, and military affairs.

After their individual presentations, Congresswoman Corrine Brown and Congressman Ander Crenshaw took several audience questions, broadening the conversation to global issues including ISIS and military response, and concerns with global transportation and Ebola.

Jeff Atwater, presentingJeff Atwater, CFO, State of Florida April 17

Jeff Atwater stopped by to discuss policy issues with the PPI Board of Advisors and PPI students.

Education Policy Forum February 11

Leadership, strategic planning and budgeting were topics brought to light during “Education Policy: Why it Matters,” a forum hosted Tuesday, Feb. 11, by the JU Public Policy Institute.



Hesburgh Lecture with Dr. Michael Pries November 21

Healthcare Policy Conference November 13


Will Weatherford, speakingWill Weatherford, Speaker, Florida House October 17, 2013

Will Weatherford, JU Alumnus, visited JU to discuss policy issues with the PPI Board of Advisors and PPI students.


Pam Bondi and Jason Altmire April 25

Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi and Jason Altmire, Florida Blue senior vice president of public policy, government and community affairs met with the Public Policy Institute Board of Advisors and PPI Faculty on April 25, 2013.


Governor Rick Scott, speakingRick Scott, Florida Governor​ February 7

Rick Scott, governor of the State of Florida, joined us on campus to discuss policy issues with the PPI Boar​d of Advisors.