Skip to main content

Arizona university opens civility center after shooting

By Rick Martin, CNN
The National Institute for Civil Discourse was inspired in part by President Obama's speech in the aftermath of the January shootings at a Tuscon Safeway.
The National Institute for Civil Discourse was inspired in part by President Obama's speech in the aftermath of the January shootings at a Tuscon Safeway.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The center is formed in the aftermath of the January 8 shootings where 6 died
  • It will conduct research on civility in public discourse
  • The co-chairs are Justice O'Connor and ex-Majority Leader Daschle
  • Other board members include former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

(CNN) -- Former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush will team up to serve as honorary chairmen of a new center created at the University of Arizona to advance the national conversation taking place about civility in political debate, university officials will announce Monday.

The creation of the institute comes in the aftermath of the January 8 shootings at a Tucson Safeway store where six people were killed and 13 hurt, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.)

Fred Duval, vice chairman of the Arizona Board of Regents and one of the originators of the ideas, said the National Institute for Civil Discourse will open in Tucson on Monday.

"This was going to happen somewhere, it ought to be here," he said.

It will be a non-partisan center for debate, research, education and policy generation regarding civility in public discourse.

The idea came to Duval after he heard President Barack Obama's speech in Tucson, Duval said.

Giffords' road to recovery
RELATED TOPICS

"A group of us got together that night after President Obama's speech and talked about things," he said. "President Clinton got involved and it took off."

The president spoke at the University of Arizona on January 12, warning Americans against assigning blame for the attacks to those other than the gunman.

"At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized -- at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do -- it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds," Obama said.

In a statement released by the University of Arizona, Bush said he was honored to join Clinton in "supporting this important effort at such a critical time in our nation's history."

In the same statement, Clinton said, "I believe that the National Institute for Civil Discourse can elevate the tone of dialogue in our country, and in so doing, help us to keep moving toward 'a more perfect union.'"

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle will serve at the institute's honorary co-chairs.

Other board members include former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

John M. Roll, a 63-year old judge, was among those gunned down while they attended an event hosted by Giffords, who was critically wounded in the attack. A 22-year-old suspect, Jared Loughner, faces federal charges in the shootings.

 
Quick Job Search