Institute of Politics Leadership Update

To: Members of the University Community
From: Paul Alivisatos, President
Subject: Institute of Politics Leadership Update
Date: February 15, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing regarding David Axelrod’s announcement of his intention to step away from his role as Director of the Institute of Politics (IOP) in January 2023.

A highly respected political strategist and former senior advisor to President Obama, David was foundational in establishing the IOP at the University of Chicago in 2013 as its inaugural director. David was the ideal person to launch the Institute, given his boundless energy, his sharp intellect, and his deep connection to the University as an alumnus of the College.

David’s leadership of the IOP has driven its incredible growth and success over the past decade, and has been pivotal to cultivating interest in, and engagement with, local, national, and global politics as a central tenet of student life at the University, particularly in the College.

Over the last ten years, David has brought a remarkable selection of leaders, scholars, and experts from across the political spectrum to exchange perspectives with members of our community, and in doing so has helped our students develop the ability to engage with points of view they may not necessarily agree with, and to understand the importance of constructive bipartisan debate, and of free expression and open discourse as being essential to a functioning democracy. Among the many impactful activities of the Institute is the internship program, in which more than 2,500 students have participated, creating many more pathways to careers in public service for College alumni than previously existed.

The IOP has worked with faculty, students, staff, and community partners to develop and deliver an array of programs and initiatives aimed at overcoming political, ideological, and geographical divides and inspiring an interest in civic engagement and public service among our community. One important example of this is the Bridging the Divide program, which David conceived of after the 2016 election.  Bridging the Divide brings together students from Eureka College, Arrupe College at Loyola University, and the University of Chicago with the aim to break down barriers that exist between rural and urban communities. 

We are committed to the ongoing success of the IOP and the vital role it plays in the life of the University and look forward to its promising future. David will remain connected to the Institute as a senior fellow and chair of the advisory board, and I look forward to working with him to identify the Institute’s next leader.

I want to express my deep gratitude to David for all he has done, and will continue to do, in support of the University of Chicago and its mission and values.

Paul Alivisatos