COLUMBUS -- The late John Glenn's namesake school at The Ohio State University will be home to a new institute aimed at helping elected officials better understand their positions and the importance of civil discourse in public service.
Republican lawmakers, who included funding for the State of Ohio Leadership Institute in the recently signed biennial budget, where on campus Wednesday to launch the effort.
" We are going to continue to advance [Glenn's] legacy by helping to train and inspire the next generation of elected leaders," said Trevor Brown, dean of the Glenn College of Public Affairs, where SOLI will be based.
Lawmakers included $5 million in the budget bill for OSU's Glenn College to establish the institute, with a focus on providing "leadership training and education for current and future elected officials and senior staff and local government," according to an analysis by the state's Legislative Service Commission.
House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) said the institute was in the works for a couple of years, with a long-term goal or providing training to legislators, county and township office-holders and other public servants on how government works.
"You've got businessmen and woman, you have moms and dads, you've got police and firefighters, all these folks are coming together to step up and say 'Hey, I'll put my name on the ballot I'll run,'" Rosenberger said. "And this is going to give them an opportunity to help them understand the process of balancing their budgets. To help them understand the interactions of Clarksville, Ohio, or Cincinnati or Cleveland or Toledo with the state government and how our budget operates."
Details on the kind of programming -- that includes both in-person classes and online options -- will be developed over the coming year, as the Glenn College hires staff, Brown said. The institute itself will be a nonpartisan endeavor, with organizers hoping to promote more cooperation across party lines.
"I think it's important to have a place where people feel comfortable that they can come regardless of their political affiliation or allegiance to learn from each other," Brown said. " We need a place that cultivates compromise. We envision some portion of the programming being specifically directed at civility, at how to achieve compromise, how to negotiate in a civil way, how to conduct yourself in a way that is respectful of your responsibility as both a citizen and an elected official."
Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), Speaker Pro Tempore of the Ohio House, was on hand Wednesday to voice his support for the new institute.
"I've been in office now 24 years," he said. "And I have seen that government seems to be getting more and more complicated. Sometimes we need to learn more about how to navigate around that complex system We also have been working very to create tools that our local elected officials and state legislators and state officials can use to make our state a better state in which to live."
Asked whether the institute would serve as a landing site for himself or other lawmakers after they finish their terms at the Statehouse, Rosenberger responded: "That's about the goofiest damn question I've ever heard No, I'm not looking to come here to work for this institute at Ohio State.
"That's never been the premise for it."
Marc Kovac covers the Ohio Statehouse for GateHouse Media. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.