National Institute for Civil Discourse created at U of A

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- A new think-tank that will focus on civility in political discourse in the United States will open at the University of Arizona.  The announcement was made Monday morning on campus.

Former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton have agreed to serve as honorary chairmen of the National Institute of Civil Discourse.  Former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor and former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota will join them along with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Fox News Anchor Greta Van Susteren.

University of Arizona Regent Fred Duval made the announcement in Tucson, saying, "This institute is the right people in the right place at the right time." 

Duval has worked on the campaigns of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was injured in the January 8 shootings near Tucson that claimed six lives and injured 13 others.

Organizers say the time is now for such a project to change the course of American politics.

"The people have very different values and political preferences but can still discuss these differences in a civil manner and through this process to hold fast to principal but to compromise when possible," said Duval.

Officials say the center will be privately funded and has already raised $1 million.  The Providence Service Corporation, run by Fletcher McCusker and headquartered in Tucson, is a major donor and has agreed to provide space for the Institute in its new downtown Tucson building.

Among the institutes first events will be a forum involving media, government and corporate leaders regarding where to go from here.

Duval says the idea for the institute came to him as he listened to President Barack Obama speak in Tucson after the shootings.