Dean Botchwey: With New Strategic Plan, Humphrey School is Strong and Ready to Take on Pressing Challenges

Botchwey delivered her annual State of the School address, highlighting the School's accomplishments and challenges ahead
March 8, 2023
Wide shot of Dean Nisha Botchwey on stage
Dean Nisha Botchwey delivers her 2023 State of the School address. 

Marking the completion of her first year leading the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Dean Nisha Botchwey declared “the state of our school is strong” in her annual State of the School address to an in-person and online audience of faculty, staff, students, and supporters on February 28. 

The Humphrey School is “ready to take on so many of the pressing challenges present right here in the Twin Cities, throughout the state of Minnesota, across the country, and even around the world, such as economic and racial inequities, disruptions caused by climate change, global tensions, and more,” Botchwey said, while noting the significant research and outreach efforts of the School’s faculty and students to address those challenges over the past year. 

Botchwey said that public policy schools play an important role in advancing the public good and training new leaders. But that path is not easy.

“We have to have difficult conversations to make progress, and I’m concerned that many of us are not comfortable having those difficult conversations,” she said. “We’re not resilient in the face of challenges to our current thinking, so we don’t engage in those conversations as readily as we should.”  

The Humphrey School’s new five-year strategic plan, which was unveiled a few weeks ago after nearly six months of work, addresses those issues, Botchwey said. 

The School’s new mission statement reads: “The Humphrey School of Public Affairs educates, engages, and equips leaders and communities to discover solutions that advance the common good in our diverse world.” 

“This plan envisions the Humphrey School as a catalyst and significant contributor to those solutions through our roles in teaching, research, and service,” Botchwey said. “It underscores the value of education and its place within a thriving democracy. What we heard over and over [from our stakeholders] was the idea that the erosion of democratic values and principles is a real threat to our democracy, and schools of public policy have a challenge and opportunity to play a big role in educating and supporting new leaders.”

The new strategic plan focuses on several key areas:

  • Promotion of student success. 
  • Support for the School's workforce. 
  • Continued focus on research to address society’s problems and prepare students to be successful in their chosen fields.  
  • Growth in the School's learning community through new and innovative programs. 
  • Stronger partnerships at the local, national, and global levels. 
  • Modeling of a community where diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice, and accessibility are consistently practiced.

In the months ahead, the School community will work toward implementing the strategic plan, and Botchwey urged the assembled audience to rise to that challenge.  

“We must learn to be resilient so we can overcome challenges to democracy, inequities, racism, and so on. We must be brave enough to have those difficult conversations,” she said. “We must work together to get to the right solution. Not the easy solution or the comfortable solution, but the right solution. We have bold initiatives to work toward. 

“Do we have the energy and the audacity to confront them? Absolutely!”