Elected to the United States Senate in 1947 with the promise to “plow a straight furrow to the end of the row,” John C. Stennis recognized the need for an organization to assist governments with a wide range of issues and to better equip citizens to participate in the political process. In 1976, Senator Stennis set the mission parameters and ushered in the development of a policy research and assistance institute which was to bear his name as an acknowledgment of his service to the people of Mississippi.
Created as a service and research arm of Mississippi State University, the John C. Stennis Institute of Government was established on February 9, 1976. Announcing its formation during a two-day Forum on Politics honoring U.S. Senators John Stennis and Margaret Chase Smith, MSU President William L. Giles outlined the Institute’s mission and goals.
According to Giles, the Institute would seek to integrate research, service, and teaching activities to improve government in the state, as well as promote the training of students who seek careers in public service.
Decades later, the Stennis Institute of Government has remained true to that initial charge. By providing meaningful, applied research to both local and state units of Mississippi government, the Institute brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to bear on real-world issues. Through its executive development programs, training opportunities, and technical assistance programs, the Institute provides support for today’s policy-makers from the courthouse to the classroom. And, by playing an active role in the development of tomorrow’s governmental leaders, the Institute is working to ensure that Mississippi’s future remains strong.
Like the majority of public servants in the State, the staff of the Institute are generalists, bringing the wide range of their experiences and talents to bear on a diverse range of issues. From political analysis and commentary to economic development activities, the topics delineated on any list of ongoing Institute projects clearly illustrate this diversity. Likewise, projects range in size and scope from specific work with Mississippi’s smallest towns to federally-funded grants with multi-state application.