Portrait of Zhirong Zhao
Founder and Advisor for IURIF
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 was the Gross Family Professor in public and nonprofit management, before he resigned from his tenured position at the Humphrey School in June 2021. As an affiliate faculty member, he serves an advisory role in Institute for Urban & Infrastructure Finance (IURIF), which he founded within the Humphrey School in 2017. 

    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). 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 has published in Public Administration ReviewJournal of Public Administration Research and TheoryPublic Management ReviewAmerican Review of Public Administration, Urban Studies, Journal of Urban AffairsPublic Finance ReviewPublic Money & Management, Public Budgeting and FinanceMunicipal 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 served as the Director of Graduate Degree (DGS) for the Master of Public Policy (MPP) program during 2017-2021.


    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,