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Peter Kalikow gives $10M for new public policy school at Hofstra

Peter S. Kalikow poses for a portrait in

Peter S. Kalikow poses for a portrait in his Manhattan office building on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. Credit: Charles Eckert

Real estate mogul Peter S. Kalikow has given Hofstra University $10 million to fund a new undergraduate school of public policy for students interested in becoming government leaders and scholars.

The Peter S. Kalikow School of Government, Public Policy and International Affairs will incorporate 19 academic disciplines and two academic centers. Graduates will earn an interdisciplinary bachelor's degree in public policy and service.

Kalikow, 72, a Hofstra alumnus and trustee who is a former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and former owner/publisher of the New York Post, said he hopes the school will elevate political discourse and help students become citizens who understand the important issues facing the nation.

"We have spent the last two cycles in a government debate that is not a debate," Kalikow told Newsday in a telephone interview Thursday. "People talk at each other and not to each other. Compromise and common ground has been a curse. It wasn't always that way."

Kalikow, who was reared in Forest Hills, Queens, and now lives in Manhattan, graduated from the Hempstead university in 1965 with a bachelor's degree in business.

The new undergraduate degree program, which has been in the planning stages for two years, will be formally announced during a celebration Monday at 11 a.m. in the Mack Student Center's theater on the North Campus. The program, pending state approval, is expected to begin in the 2016-17 academic year. The university hopes it will grow to about 100 students in the first two to three years.

The donation brings Kalikow's support for the new school to $12 million, university officials said. His earlier contributions funded the Peter S. Kalikow Center for the Study of the American Presidency and an endowed chair in presidential studies, held by Meena Bose, who previously was director of American politics at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

"He has a genuine interest -- almost a fanatical interest -- in the history of presidential politics and the public issues of the day," Hofstra University president Stuart Rabinowitz said. "Even though he's in the private sector, he's had many experiences serving in government in some manner."

The university's center for presidential studies was instrumental in bringing presidential debates to Hofstra in 2008 and 2012. During the past nine years, it has hosted conferences that bring noted scholars, lawmakers and journalists to analyze individual American presidents.

"Hofstra has grown a legacy of getting people who are interested in public policy, public service and international relations," Rabinowitz said.

The university has been selected as an alternate site for a presidential debate in 2016.

Sixteen schools nationally submitted applications last spring to the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates to be host campuses. In late September four -- Washington University in St. Louis, Wright State University in Ohio, Longwood University in Virginia and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas -- were chosen as sites for the presidential and vice presidential debates.

Rabinowitz said the government and public policy school is part of a long-term strategic plan to boost the university's national reputation as have the additions of medical, engineering and public health schools.

"You can't be without STEM, but you can't be only STEM," he said, referring to science, technology, engineering and math. "We don't want to be looked at as just having a medical school and just having a law school. We have many different schools, and this is one of the arts and sciences enterprises which defines a fully textured university."

With James T. Madore

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