Portrait of Zhirong Zhao
Professor, Founder and Academic Advisor for IURIF
246 Humphrey School
Currently reviewing Ph.D. applicants
Areas of Expertise
Public financial management; public budgeting; sustainable development; economic development; local government management; infrastructure finance


Zhirong "Jerry" Zhao is the Gross Family Professor in public and nonprofit management. His research focuses on public budgeting and finance, in particular how local governments generate sufficient revenue under ever-increasing constraints; how state and local fiscal structures affect the pattern and effectiveness of public service delivery; and how public and nonprofit organizations interact with each other in budgetary and service decision making.

Jerry holds a PhD in Public Administration from the University of Georgia and earned bachelor's and master's degrees in Urban Planning from Tongji University (China). In his earlier career as an urban planner, he led many projects for local governments across China, and published journal articles and book chapters on urban renewal and historical preservation.

As a public administration scholar, he has published in Public Administration Review, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Public Management Review, American Review of Public Administration, Urban Studies, Journal of Urban Affairs, Public Finance Review, Public Money & Management, Public Budgeting and Finance, Municipal Finance Journal, and Chinese Public Administration Review, etc., and has worked on funded projects supported by the Minnesota Legislature, Minnesota Department of Transportation, and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

Jerry was named the Humphrey School's Instructor of the Year in 2009 and 2013. He is currently the Director of Graduate Degree (DGS) for the Master of Public Policy (MPP) program. Jerry founded the Institute for Urban & Regional Infrastructure Finance (IURIF) within the Humphrey School in 2017, and serves as its academic director.


PhD in Public Administration (University of Georgia, 2005)

Tan, j. & Zhao, J. (2019). Explaining the Duration of PPP Adoption: Local Government Capacity, Leadership Characteristics, and Project Features, The Journal of Public Management,

tan, j. & Zhao, J. (2019). The Rise of Public-Private Partnerships in China: An Effective Financing Approach for Infrastructure Investment?, Public Administration Review,