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President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign strategist is teaming up with his Chicago alma mater to create a new Institute of Politics.
David Axelrod, who graduated from the University of Chicago in 1976, will lead programs at what the school describes as a non-partisan institute offering students extracurricular ways to participate and study civic life in Chicago and across the country.
Axelrod will lead the institute after the 2012 presidential election, the school announced Thursday.
"My goal is to introduce more students to the spirit of public service," Axelrod said in a statement. "To me it's the most exciting, interesting, and vital way to spend one's life, and it's a tremendous way for students to have an impact on the issues they care about. I hope to help fire those passions.
"We need bright, motivated young people to go into careers in public service," he said.
The programming, aimed to start in early 2013, will offer up visiting fellows and policy practitioners, a broader range of internships in policy and public interest, and a series of public lectures about political life, the school said.
The school will publicly introduce the Institute of Politics during a webcast event at 2 p.m. Thursday followed by a panel discussion of the 2012 election featuring Mayor Rahm Emanuel, New York Times columnist David Brooks, political commentator Alex Castellanos and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.
"A large number of students in the College want to explore careers in social and public service, so we believe there will be widespread student interest in this new institute," said John Boyer, dean of the College, in a statement.
Axelrod, a former key strategist and aide to Obama and current strategist for Obama's re-election campaign, said he will refocus his political efforts after the campaign ends in November. The idea of the institute was born of informal discussions with Axelrod and university leaders in past months, the school said.
Axelrod said the new chapter of his career will focus on helping "inspire and train the next generation of political leaders."
"There will be students who take part in this program and, as a result, will make the choice to go into politics as a noble, essential profession," Axelrod said. "Whatever side of political debates they may be on, we need to turn their intellectual power to the challenges facing our world."