photo: courtesy of institute of politics

David Axelrod's latest venture, the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, has been up and running now for months, but this morning, Axelrod and Company made the whole shebang official. There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Institute's new home (literally, a three-story brick house on South Woodlawn, a few blocks from the campus quadrangles).

A hundred or so students, faculty heads, and Institute folks gathered on the front lawn for the event, which had the very unfortunate timing, mediawise, of coming during Roger Ebert's funeral. (Axe's bud Rahm Emanuel, who was supposed to attend, was a no show; instead, he was at Holy Name Cathedral.)

Before snipping the ceremonial ribbon with oversized scissors, a still-mustacheless Axelrod, U. of C. class of '76, talked about the Institute. He recalled that as a U. of C. student way back there was "not a great receptivity to contemporary politics," referring to the school's emphasis on the Classics. Then he cracked, to laughs: "or anything after 1800." He said he hopes the Institute changes that-a sentiment that U. of C. president Robert Zimmer also echoed.

So far, the Institute has put on some impressive events featuring a who's-who of national politics. That continues tonight with a panel discussion about the GOP:

"What's Next for the Republican Party?"

TIME: 6 p.m., Monday, April 8, 2013

LOCATION: International House's Assembly Hall, 1414 E. 59th St.

WHAT: The Institute will convene a panel of leading Republican thinkers to discuss the future of the Republican party and its current challenges. Panelists will include:

  • Haley Barbour, former Republican governor of Mississippi 
  • Bill Kristol, founder and editor of The Weekly Standard 
  • Mike Murphy, Republican political consultant 
  • Beth Myers, former senior advisor to Gov. Mitt Romney
  • Ramesh Ponnuru, conservative columnist and senior editor at National Review
  • Chris Wallace (moderator), host of Fox News Sunday