Mike Downs came to IPFW in the fall of 1966 for what he thought would be a temporary position while he finished his Ph.D. That temporary position became a 34+ year career that provided great benefit to IPFW, Indiana, and to Mike. After Mike passed away in January of 2001, a group of his friends, colleagues, and family were trying to think of an appropriate way to honor his service and life. The challenge was to come up with something that combined the different ways in which Mike touched people's lives. For some, Mike touched their lives as a teacher. Mike touched other lives by providing invaluable advice on political matters. Still others were touched by the fact that he treated all people with dignity and respect and expected others to do the same. No matter how a person met or knew Mike, one thing that always came through was his love of politics and his understanding of the role politics and government play in our lives on a daily basis.
After much thought and discussion, the decision was made to create a center that studies state and local politics in a way that emphasizes the importance of the role citizens play in political and public processes. As Mike knew, each generation has a duty to pass on to the next the beauty, strength, and transcendent principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. If we fail to do this, we will be failing to do our part to protect and preserve the basic principles that helped create our nation.
The Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics is the first non-partisan center in Indiana devoted to helping people understand the importance of active participation in the free society and the ways that politics impact our daily lives. No other process allows us to effect so much potential, positive change in our community and state. The Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics is the first center devoted to studying the politics of a particular state.