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August 23, 2017

Andrea Mitchell endows Penn with a center to study democracy

Trump critic says program will be 'non-partisan' and free of political influence

An NBC News chief correspondent who has been critical of President Donald Trump's policies recently endowed the University of Pennsylvania with a center for students to study democracy.

The Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy would be a "non-partisan" study and research space, Mitchell told the Daily Pennsylvanian this week.

A press release from the university stated that the organization would build on the Penn Progam on Democracy, Citizenship, and Constitutionalism, an initiative started in 2006.

Mitchell, who graduated from the school's College for Women with an English degree in 1967, is NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent. She also heads the Penn Arts and Sciences Board of Overseers and is a University Trustee Emertia.

She has been repeatedly critical of the Trump administration.

In March 2016, she said then-candidate Trump was "completely uneducated" about the world. In April, after Trump had called her "Hillary Clinton's P.R. person," Mitchell told Politico that among the seven presidents she has covered, Trump was the most hostile toward the press.

And just last week, in response to Trump's off-the-cuff comments at Trump Tower about the Charlottesville, Virginia violence, Mitchell said she had "never been as discouraged" with the country's leadership.

Mitchell told the Daily Pennsylvanian this week that despite her criticisms of the president over a number of issues, the center will be free of political influence.

“We’re going to be studying civil values and democracy and the Constitution and how it applies today in all forms,” she told the student-run newspaper. "I have no role at all in what direction the scholars take."

The center will support academic and public programs organized around yearly themes, according to the release. The program will also engage students at all levels, and a book series published in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania Press will capture workshop and conference materials, university officials said.

Mitchell endowed the center with her husband, Alan Greenspan. The pair previously endowed two Penn Integrates Knowledge professorships, according to the university.