Remembering Reubin O’D. Askew

In 1994, the faculty of our school voted unanimously to name ourselves the ‘Reubin O’D. Askew School of Public Administration and Policy’ to honor our most distinguished alumnus. His public service began as a paratrooper in the US Army, continued as a captain in the US Air Force, as a member of both the Florida House and Senate, and it culminated in his serving as Governor of Florida from 1971 to 1979 and as US Trade Ambassador from 1979 to 1981.

Our faculty members were well aware that a study at the Kennedy School at Harvard had identified Governor Askew as one of the ten best American governors, all states included, over the previous century. But what most influenced our faculty’s decision in naming our school was Governor Askew’s reputation for embodying and demonstrating the values of integrity and public service. When he was protected by federal agents, the agents themselves decided to assign the nickname “Integrity” to Governor Askew.

As Governor of Florida, Reubin Askew made fundamental changes to Florida’s constitution and governmental processes. He led successful efforts to change our tax structure to make it fairer, to bring far greater transparency through some of the first and toughest ‘Sunshine’ laws in any state, to modernize Florida’s antiquated courts system, and to establish a framework for managing growth and environmental protection. Especially important were his efforts, as one of the first ‘New South” governors, to promote civil rights. His actions in this arena included appointing the first Floridians of African ancestry in modern times to top positions in the Supreme Court and state agencies.

In 1995, Governor Askew joined the faculty of our school and continued teaching as an active colleague until his passing in 2014. He worked hard to give our school a firmer financial footing by raising endowed funds that were sufficient to support both the Askew Educational Endowment Fund and the Askew Eminent Scholar Chair in Florida Government and Politics. He was widely recognized for his many contributions with such honors as being elected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, honorary doctorates from fifteen universities including FSU, and major other awards such as those he received from the governments of Israel and Japan.

The members of the Askew School are dedicated to making our school a living memorial to the memory of our friend and colleague by doing all we can to live up to our mission statement – “Promoting Scholarship, Democratic Governance, and Integrity.”