Can We Talk About the Humphrey School?
By Laura Bloomberg, dean
"What is the Humphrey School of Public Affairs all about? What do you actually do there?"
I am often asked these or similar questions. As dean of the Humphrey School, I see it as my responsibility to be prepared to respond with a good elevator speech. But when I am asked to provide an update on what is happening at the school, I am tempted to respond: How much time do you have? Can we really talk?
While I understand the importance of offering a succinct description of the work we do at a local, national, and global level, the truth is, our work doesn’t lend itself to a succinct response. The footprint left by our renowned faculty, passionate students, and impressive alumni is broad, deep, and growing.
Did you know that a large cohort of Humphrey School alumni helped to lead the development of the nationally recognized Minneapolis 2040 plan, creating a model for planning that focuses on equity?
Or that, in a time of increasing partisanship, our Policy Fellows program has created an extensive professional network that bridges ideological, political, and cultural divides?
Or that through the federally funded Hubert H. Humphrey International Fellows program, more than 700 professionals from 162 countries have bolstered their skills at the Humphrey School and are now driving meaningful and lasting change in their home countries?
The problem with describing what we do at a place like the Humphrey School of Public Affairs is that our work is ever evolving. And that is how it should be. The moment we are able to tell our story in a tweet or sound bite we know the time has come to refocus our vision, dream bigger, and push further.
Public affairs is about change. The Humphrey School community is continuously advancing conversations on vital topics that include climate change, human rights, social justice, immigration reform, human services redesign, smart cities, and economic development. We do this because we are driven to make the world a better place.
Our work and our impact are complex. Still, it’s entirely reasonable to expect us to identify measurable outcomes to determine our impact. Impact can be measured in a 98 percent employment rate for our 2018 graduates, with alumni landing jobs in government (42 percent), at nonprofit organizations (30 percent), in the private sector (25 percent), and in academia (4 percent).
It can be measured in the number of alumni who now hold elected office or leadership positions in every sector, or the fact that 67 percent of our faculty were asked to provide content expertise on bills under consideration by the Minnesota Legislature, the U.S. Congress, and the United Nations last year. It can be measured in the fact that the Humphrey School was once again ranked in the top 10 among all public affairs schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.
Our peers clearly see that something special is happening here. It’s impossible to fully describe our work with an elevator speech. To truly get at what we do requires a conversation that goes beyond the surface. Fortunately, deep conversations are our specialty at the Humphrey School. So ask any member of our community what we do. We’re happy to talk.