After Mike Downs passed away in January of 2001, a group of his friends, colleagues, and family were trying to think of an appropriate way to honor the 34+ years he had spent serving IPFW and the Fort Wayne area. 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.
The group also thought about how Mike was often on the cutting edge. He was one of the first faculty members to suggest to students that they enter the infant field of geographic information systems. He was one of the first faculty members to consistently teach courses on College Access Television. He even taught one of the first classes offered via the Internet at IPFW. What makes all of these accomplishments so humorous is that Mike was actually technologically challenged (or at least he pretended to be).
A final component that had to be incorporated was Mike's love of history, reading, and the arts. Students from Mike's Indiana State Politics class can remember reading selections from Jean Shepherd (Shepherd's book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash is the basis for the movie A Christmas Story.)
The only way to incorporate all of this in an appropriate way was to create a center for the study of state and local politics that was accessible to scholars, students, politicians, and people seeking to understand politics and government. Remarkably this is the first center devoted to studying the politics of a particular state and so Mike is on the cutting edge again.
For more information, see the center's website.Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics Indiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne 2101 E. Coliseum Boulevard Fort Wayne, IN 46805