December 9, 2003—The Institute mourns the passing of our distinguished Trustee Paul Simon, a remarkable statesman and dedicated public servant who leaves behind a legacy of service, integrity, and of high ideals. Mr. Simon was a former two-term senator from Illinois and one-time presidential candidate whose 40-year career in public service was marked by the high levels of decency and honesty for which he was known. He died unexpectedly on December 9, 2003 after undergoing heart surgery. He had recently celebrated his 75th birthday.
We at the Institute are grateful to have been touched by his extraordinary vision and commitment. We were honored by his service on our Board, and privileged to have been working with him on his most recent initiative, the proposed Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Fellowship Program.
On retiring from the Senate, Mr. Simon became founder and director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, where he had been active in issues such as campaign finance and ethics reform. In the last months of his life, Senator Simon had taken a public stance in advocating financial assistance to help increase the numbers of American students who are able to study abroad. He had come to New York in October to address our Board of Trustees on this topic, and he made a public announcement of a major new initiative that he was proposing, the Lincoln Fellowship Program, via a video-taped message that he recorded to be shown at our Open Doors briefing in Washington in November. The Lincoln program, named to honor the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial, would provide fellowships to undergraduates to fund study abroad on a large scale. We hope to see this program realized, and to see his legacy include the far-reaching benefits that it offers our country and the world.
According to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, "The passing of Senator Paul Simon is a great loss to all of us in the Congress. He was a distinguished statesman who possessed extraordinary talent, a man who dedicated many years of his life as a selfless public servant who put those he represented first and foremost throughout his tenure in office.” Mr. Hastert said that Paul Simon would be remembered “as a man of great integrity and honor, a gentleman who cared deeply for his constituents and his country.”
We were honored to have Senator Simon as a member of the Institute's Board of Trustees, and will work to continue the commitment to furthering Study Abroad that he so fervently endorsed. The Institute's Board and staff sends our deepest condolences to the Simon family.