University of Minnesota
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The Humphrey School of Public Affairs is the University of
Minnesota's school of policy and planning.

The History of the Humphrey School

The University of Minnesota ’s commitment to public affairs leadership back to the very first president, William Watts Folwell. In his inaugural address in 1869, Folwell said that it was the University’s obligation to teach public affairs. He emphasized the need for “special instruction of our public servants.”

A living memorial
The Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs was founded in early 1977 to recognize and honor Senator and Vice President Hubert Humphrey, a legislator and statesman recognized internationally for his contributions to improving the well-being of humanity.

The Humphrey Institute grew out of the University of Minnesota’s former School of Public Affairs (1968–77) and Public Administration Center (1936–68). It was renamed the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in 2011 to better reflect its academic mission. Like its predecessors, the Humphrey School continues to instill in our brightest leaders an understanding of leadership and public service.

Before his death, Humphrey made sure that the institution that would carry his name would be more than a college. He wanted a living memorial, one that would not only prepare future leaders, but also one that would be a forum for active debate on the policy issues of the day; and an academy that would produce the best research and non-partisan advocacy based on that research.

Teaching, research, and outreach
Professor John Adams led the transition of the School of Public Affairs to the Humphrey Institute graduate school from 1976 to 1979. Harlan Cleveland, an internationally known political figure and former Assistant Secretary of State, was named the Institute’s founding dean in 1980. Under Cleveland’s leadership, the college moved into its current home at the Humphrey Center in 1986. The building was designed to enhance the research and outreach mission of the college and to present a welcoming gateway to the University of Minnesota’s West Bank. The Humphrey Center’s innovative design—which includes earth-covered roof surfaces and skylights—reinforced the Institute’s historic interest in environmental policy and climate change mitigation. Regents Professor G. Edward Schuh later served as dean from 1987 to 1997, followed by Professor John Brandl from 1997 to 2002.

J. Brian Atwood was named dean in 2002. He has continued the Humphrey School’s 30-year tradition of teaching, research, and outreach. In the fall of 2007, Dean Atwood challenged the Humphrey School community to examine the significant policy and planning issues potentially facing the world in the year 2020. “Humphrey 2020,” a collaborative process that includes students and community partners, will provide new insights to curriculum needs, research, and public outreach in the 21st century.

Atwood resigned as dean December 31, 2010 , and is on leave from the University to serve as chair of the Development Assistance Committee, a permanent forum of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that coordinates international development policy.

In 2010, the University of Minnesota Board of Regents approved changing the name of the Humphrey Institute to the Humphrey School of Public Affairs to better reflect the institution's academic mission. Named dean on June 1, 2011, Eric P. Schwartz assumed this role on October 12, 2011.