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Sine of the Times


Photo­graphy by
Jeff Watts

President Sylvia Burwell chats with Sen. Bob Corker at the Newseum

Convene, communicate, collaborate.

The mission of AU’s new Sine Institute of Policy and Politics is refreshingly straightforward—and particularly relevant in an era when our country is more polarized than ever.

Only 32 percent of Americans hold a mix of conservative and liberal views on issues such as immigration, race, and the role of government, according to an October 2017 survey by the Pew Research Center. That’s down from 49 percent in 2004.

AU’s institute was established with a $10 million gift from Jeff Sine, SIS/BA ’76, and his wife, Samira (inset). It will capitalize on our DC location to bring together experts, scholars, and students to tackle pressing challenges in a way that promotes bipartisan solutions. 

“A young President Kennedy observed on our Jacobs Field: ‘Our problems are manmade. Therefore, they can be solved by man.’ American University is a place for problem solvers; a community of changemakers; and a campus where no one is indifferent,” AU President Sylvia Burwell says. 

Six members have been named to the institute’s advisory board and a search is underway for an executive director. A cornerstone of the Sine Institute is its fellowship program. Each spring, the center will host six fellows from across the United States and around the world—experts in politics, journalism, the nonprofit sector, business, and more.  

Jeff Sine is a partner at the Raine Group in New York City and a long-serving member of the AU Board of Trustees. Samira Sine is an advocate for women and children and a seasoned journalist. The couple says of the gift: “We wanted to empower American University to make an immediate and lasting impact at the intersection of politics and policy, increasing AU’s national and international visibility.”

Common ground

The Sine Institute kicked off with a conversation between Burwell and Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on September 25 at the Newseum. The two explored issues such as the economy, the future of the Republican Party, and civil discourse.

“The way we solve problems is to listen to the other person’s side,” Corker said, “and you can almost always find some area of commonality to build upon.”

“I found that I use the ratio of one mouth and two ears,” Burwell added. “There’s a reason that God gave us that ratio—especially when working in this space.”