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The Daily Wildcat


Giffords joins Civil Discourse board

Michelle A. Monroe
Michelle A. Monroe / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona Police Department officials gave awards to UA employees and one student who helped them solve crimes or arrest people.

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has joined the National Institute for Civil Discourse Board, according to a press release issued on Tuesday by UA President Eugene Sander and the institute’s working board chair, Fred DuVal.

The National Institute for Civil Discourse was established in February of 2011, in the wake of the Jan. 8 shooting that killed six and wounded 13, including Giffords. The institute is nonpartisan and advocates civil public discourse on a national level as outlined by the First Amendment. The organization is housed in the School of Government and Public Policy, and its national board members include former U.S. Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and ABC News Special Correspondent Katie Couric.

Brint Milward, director of the School of Government and Public Policy, directs the institute’s working board. While the board includes a number of former politicians, its nonpartisan nature doesn’t allow for current politicians to be members, Milward said. But after her resignation from Congress, he added, Giffords became an obvious person to have on the board.

“She is really the inspiration for the institute,” Milward said. “So it’s absolutely appropriate and we are thrilled that she is joining the board.”

Sander also showed his appreciation for Giffords’ willingness to join the board, and said her participation, even to the slightest degree, would have a great impact on the board’s mission.

“It hit me that this might be something that she truly would enjoy,” Sander said. “It’s not demanding on her, it’s the sort of thing she can do at her own pace, and yet every word she was able to utter, every meeting she was able to go to, I think, would make a huge difference to the people who are actually working very hard on that board.”

Students who have been involved with Giffords and with the National Institute for Civil Discourse have also said they are happy to see Giffords contributing to the cause, and that her participation will add to the university’s reputation as well as strengthen the board’s mission.

Erik Lundstrom, a political science junior and president of the UA Young Democrats, worked as an intern in Giffords’ Washington, D.C., office last year.

“Her joining this will definitely help the fundraising effort and the mission of the organization, especially considering that the mission was brought aware of because of the incident involving her on Jan. 8,” Lundstrom said. “I think that Giffords’ presence will only help the organization, which will bring more prestige to the U of A.”

Pilar Ventura, a political science senior, interned for the National Institute for Civil Discourse last year and now works there as an office assistant. Ventura said Giffords’ inspirational nature will exemplify the board’s goals.

“I think that she will bring a lot of influence to the board because I know a lot of people look to her as an example of civility in politics,” Ventura said. “The institute is always looking for diverse views and I think that she will just bring her own unique perspectives to the institute.”

Only time will tell how Giffords willl help fulfill the board’s mission to advance the quality of public discourse, Milward said.

“All of our members of the board do very wonderful things for us in different ways,” he added. “I think that’s one of the things we’ll discover as we go forward.”

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