Today, the University of West Florida announced the creation of the Reubin O’D. Askew Institute for Multidisciplinary Studies in honor of the late Pensacolian and famed Florida governor.

Pensacola attorney Fred Levin is investing $550,000 in UWF to establish the Institute, allowing the university to purchase land to house the institute.

“The Institute will substantially further UWF’s leadership in STEAM initiatives – combined applications of science, technology, engineering, art and math,” UWF officials said Monday.

School officials said activities within the Institute will include increased visibility of potential STEAM initiatives, partnerships with area schools and businesses, internships and research opportunities.

“This gift can be a game-changer for UWF,” said UWF President Martha Saunders. “It allows us to build on the existing strengths of the University to create one-of-a-kind approaches to teaching and learning. I am grateful for the trust Mr. Levin has placed in us.”

According to UWF, the Institute will have the flexibility of supporting opportunities for integrating humanities and social science disciplines toward solving community problems.

Reubin O’D. Askew was an American politician who served as the 37th governor of the state of Florida from 1971 to 1979. In 1974, he became the first governor in Florida history to be elected to a second consecutive four-year term. During his two terms as governor, Askew was primarily involved in tax reform, especially in the increase of homestead exemption and passage of the “Sunshine Amendment,” which called for full financial disclosure by public officials and candidates.

In 1955, Askew founded the firm of Levin & Askew with partner David Levin, Fred’s deceased older brother. In 1961, Fred Levin joined the firm.

“Governor Askew, besides being a friend and a law partner, was one of those rare persons who lived the principles he spoke,” said Levin. “As Governor, his only guideline was to ask whether it was good for the people of Florida. If it was not the right thing to do, he would not do it, regardless the political fallout. Hopefully, the students and faculty who come to know Governor Askew will be inspired to do good for its own sake, and to serve the people with the humility and dedication that he practiced.”

This will be the second major honor for Askew in Pensacola since his death in 2014. Last month, the terminal at Pensacola International Airport was dedicated and named in honor of Askew.


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