In 1976, as the project was reaching an end, Poynter presented the university with a second substantial gift to endow a center and establish it in perpetuity. So began the Poynter Center for American Institutions.

Over the decades, the center has focused on political and social issues such as medical ethics and bioethics, professional ethics, political ethics, privacy issues, death and dying, research ethics, moral and political psychology, and teaching ethics in the sciences and humanities. Its name evolved again in the early 1980s, becoming what it remains today: The Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions.