Gift from business executive creates Nevins Democracy Leaders Program

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- David Nevins, a State College real estate executive, has made a significant gift to create The Nevins Democracy Leaders program, a signature initiative within The McCourtney Institute for Democracy, based in the College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State. The Nevins Leaders program will provide education and ­training in transpartisan leadership skills by exposing participants to a variety of philosophies, viewpoints and strategies; teaching the tools of critical thinking, deliberation and dialogue; and placing students in unique internship opportunities in democratic and civic renewal.

Nevins is founder and president of Nevins Real Estate Management, based in State College. He is a 1969 economics graduate of Penn State and a 1971 master of business administration graduate from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He also is one of the leaders of No Labels, a national bipartisan movement of Democrats, Republicans and Independents dedicated to transpartisan problem solving.

John Gastil, director of The McCourtney Institute for Democracy, said, ''This innovative program will help distinguish Penn State as a unique institution for learning how to serve effectively in government, civic organizations and as a member of one’s community. The program will connect Penn State with leaders across the country who want to tackle the most vexing problems we face in society by working across party lines and bringing together people of diverse backgrounds to work together to find common ground and realistic solutions.''

Penn State students who serve as Nevins Democracy Leaders will participate in collaborative dialogues, meet with guest lecturers, and complete coursework to learn the skills of civil political discourse and critical thinking necessary for a problem-solving approach to governance and citizenship. Additionally, every Leader will gain practical experience, working as an intern with organizations and individuals, inside and outside government, that share a commitment to improving American politics such as the Aspen Institute, No Labels or the Jefferson Center for New Democratic Processes. Each year, Leaders who have returned from their internships will share their experiences with the new group of students joining the program.

''The lack of civility, crippling partisanship and gridlock that characterize the political process today is preventing our country from solving the serious problems we face on a daily basis,'' said Nevins. ''I believe the best hope for effective government is through the leadership of the next generation of Americans who understand the importance of civil political discourse and critical thinking.

"The Nevins Democracy Leaders will use the tools and perspectives they develop through the program to take a bipartisan approach to America's most important issues," he added. "It is my hope that this program will improve the quality of problem solving in our local communities, our states and in our country.''

The McCourtney Institute for Democracy promotes rigorous scholarship and practical innovations to advance democracy in the United States and abroad. In collaboration with the Center for Democratic Deliberation and the Center for American Political Responsiveness, the Institute seeks to understand the dynamics that promote or inhibit the democratic qualities of modern political systems. Through teaching, creative research projects and public programs, the McCourtney Institute for Democracy helps Penn State students to become more engaged citizens, so Penn State graduates can help find the best solutions to challenging problems at home and abroad.

Penn State alumni and friends are invaluable partners in fulfilling the University’s land-grant mission of education, research and service. Private gifts from alumni and friends enrich the experiences of students both in and out of the classroom; expand the research and teaching capacity of our faculty; enhance the University’s ability to recruit and retain top students and faculty; and help to ensure that students from every economic background have access to a Penn State education. The University’s colleges and campuses are now enlisting the support of alumni and friends to advance a range of unit-specific initiatives.

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Last Updated December 04, 2014