Graham Backs Centers to Teach Leadership Skills; the Facilities Will Help to Steer College Students into Careers in Public Service

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Byline: BETH KORMANIK

Former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham said both the war in Iraq and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, might have been avoided if the country had better intelligence.

He's not the first to suggest it, but he is doing something about it by lending his name and ideas to the Bob Graham Center for Public Service, which will have sites at the University of Florida and the University of Miami.

Graham was in Jacksonville on Friday to talk about and raise money for the centers.

When Graham entered politics in 1966, an informal network of community and business leaders would identify promising young people and mentor them to be future leaders. Some of those networks have broken down, Graham said, but the need still exists to teach young people the skills to be leaders.

He sees the Graham centers as filling that need by steering college students into public service. He wants students to study ethics, communications and Florida history and take internships in Florida government and civic organizations.

The centers will start with a focus on three areas: public leadership, homeland security and the Americas. Faculty will identify significant public policy areas in Florida and the nation and use academic resources to develop solutions.

One issue Graham would like to see studied is the security of Florida's 14 seaports. He called them "an area of vulnerability" in the state's homeland security.

Another issue UF students will tackle is intelligence. UF is one of six universities the National Security Agency selected to participate in a pilot program to train students for intelligence work similar to the way the ROTC program trains students to be military officers. …