May 02, 2006

Watchdog group to honor Mike Lawrence

by Sun Min

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) next week will honor Mike Lawrence, director of Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, with its 2006 Paul Simon Public Service Award.

The organization is recognizing Lawrence for his contributions to better government through a distinguished career in public service and journalism.

"We brought it to the board and it was a unanimous decision," said Cynthia Canary, director of ICPR, a government watchdog organization founded by Simon in 1999. "Mike isn't just about talking. He's about doing and in everything he does, he focuses on how government can do it better and how leaders can work to make it better."

Lawrence said, "I feel privileged to receive an award which is named after someone with whom I worked closely and for whom I had the greatest respect."

Sheila Simon, daughter of Paul Simon, will present the award at an event in Chicago on May 10. The organization also will honor Newton Minow, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and the Peoria Journal Star for its editorial page.

Lawrence became director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute in 2004 following the death of its late founder and former U.S. senator. Prior to joining SIUC, Lawrence was press secretary and senior policy adviser to former Gov. Jim Edgar for nearly a decade. He joined Edgar's staff after working as a journalist for 25 years.

In addition to his work with the institute, Lawrence holds a faculty rank of professor and teaches in the journalism school and political science department.

Lawrence plans to continue his efforts to improve government.

"I have worked with ICPR on several projects and I think we've made a positive difference in Illinois but we still haven't accomplished everything we've hoped for, so we're going to keep working on it," he said.

Lawrence attended Knox College, where he also received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1998.

Lawrence and his wife, Marianne, live in Carbondale.

Serving others is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.