January 17, 2017

Simon Institute recognizes students

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Two students who work with Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute are receiving the Mike Lawrence Scholarship and the institute’s Director’s Award. 

Octavia Franklin, a December 2016 graduate in business management from Chicago, received the Mike Lawrence Scholarship, while Lucas Taylor, a senior in accountancy from Springfield, received the 2016 Director’s Award. 

Franklin became involved with the institute after being accepted to the Women’s Civic Institute, an institute collaboration with the university’s Center for Service-Learning and Volunteerism, in January 2015.  She then became a student employee at the institute and was active in helping to coordinate institute events. 

The award honors Lawrence, who retired as institute director in November 2008. The veteran newsman, press secretary and political analyst joined the institute in 1997 as associate director, and became the director in 2004 following the death of founder and former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon. Recipients are outstanding students who are involved in institute programs, initiatives and other volunteer opportunities, and who have demonstrated positive leadership qualities. There is a preference that recipients are African American.

Taylor, has worked as a student employee with the institute since January 2015 and has supported numerous programs. Taylor spent summer 2014 as an intern in the Illinois state treasurer’s office and the following summer as a legislative intern focusing on health policy for then-U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk’s office in Washington, D.C. Taylor will graduate from SIU Carbondale in May 2017.

David Yepsen, the institute’s former director who retired in October 2016, originated the Director’s Award. Yepsen joined the institute in 2009 after a 34-year career as a political writer, editor and columnist for the Des Moines Register. In 2016, through the generosity of private donors, Herb and Carolyn Donow, an endowment was established to continue the award and honor Yepsen.  The newly renamed David Yepsen Director’s Award formalizes one of his first initiatives. 

“Keeping with the legacy of our founder, Sen. Paul Simon, each director leaves a mark on the institute and our work becomes part of each of their legacies as well,” Jak Tichenor, interim director, said. “It’s fitting that both Mike and David are honored in ways that directly recognize our students and help them excel.”

Contributions to the Mike Lawrence Scholarship and David Yepsen Director’s Award can be made online at www.paulsimoninstitute.org, or by sending a check to the institute at 1231 Lincoln Drive, Mailcode 4429, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901. More information on the scholarship or award is available by contacting Delio Calzolari, associate director, at 618/453-4009, or by email at delio@siu.edu.