Pensacola attorney Fred Levin is giving $550,000 to the University of West Florida to establish the Reubin O’D. Askew Institute for Multidisciplinary Studies. The gift will also help the University purchase land to house the Institute.
“This gift can be a game-changer for UWF,” UWF President Martha Saunders said in a statement. “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 the statement, the Institute will substantially further the UWF’s leadership in STEAM initiatives – combined applications of science, technology, engineering, art and math. Activities within the Institute will include increased visibility of potential STEAM initiatives, partnerships with area schools and businesses, internships and research opportunities.
The Institute will also have the flexibility to foster numerous opportunities for integrating humanities and social science disciplines toward solving community problems. It will draw on existing strengths of the university to inspire relevant research.
Reubin O’D. Askew — the new institute’s namesake — 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, David Levin, Fred’s deceased older brother, and Askew founded the law firm of Levin & Askew. 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 in a statement. “He would not abide a curse word on a tennis court, nor would he abide a false statement in a court of law. 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. There is a reason why he was the first Governor in modern Florida history to be re-elected for a second term. 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.”
More than 20 years ago, Levin gifted an endowed professorship at UWF in honor of his father, Abe Levin, which is now worth more than $400,000. With the establishment of the Institute, this professorship will be directly associated with the Institute and will be dedicated to arranging visiting scientists, writers and creatives to enhance intellectual capital. The endowed professorship, his recent gift of $100,000 to support UWF Football and the $550,000 contribution to establish the Askew Institute total more than $1 million in giving. The attorney has also given to the University of Florida in Gainesville, donating $10 million in 1999 for the renaming of the Fredric G. Levin College of Law.