Dean Laura Bloomberg Calls on Humphrey School to Focus on the Future
Dean Laura Bloomberg offered a simple message to the Humphrey School of Public Affairs community this week: To fulfill our mission of advancing the common good, we must remember to look outward, beyond the walls that form our school building, toward the entire world and toward a future where everyone, no matter where they call home, is able to thrive.
Surrounded by an auditorium full of faculty, staff, students, and school supporters—intrepid men and women who braved a mid-February snowstorm—Bloomberg delivered her annual State of the School address on Wednesday.
Bloomberg said she was inspired by the school’s efforts to invest in the future by educating the next generation of leaders. She also highlighted the work of faculty and researchers that has global as well as local impact, saying she wants the school to become more visible in this area of influence.
Bloomberg also announced that Laysha Ward, executive vice president and chief external engagement officer at Target Corporation, will be the keynote speaker at the Humphrey School's commencement ceremony on May 18.
Here are a few highlights of the dean's remarks.
Local and Global Perspectives
Bloomberg called out various faculty projects and activities that are raising the school’s reputation as a leader in global affairs, such as hosting an international conference on civil rights in Brazil; conducting research on sustainability in India and China; studying unemployment among young adults in the Middle East; and examining the impact of international policies on immigration in Minnesota.
She also noted the Humphrey School’s strong reputation among other graduate schools of public policy for its global focus, and its efforts to diversify the students who study global policy.
We have a large and growing percentage of our faculty across the school—not only in our global policy area—who are engaged in research, teaching, and outreach on both a global and a local level. They’re doing international work and doing work here, closer to home. It's intriguing to think about how we should amplify, support and perhaps extend that 'local/global' relationship.
I'm proud of this work. I'm proud of the fact that we can grow our global focus without in any way sacrificing or cutting short the work that we're doing locally. These are some questions I’d like us as a School to grapple with over the next several months:
How might we as the Humphrey School be a leader in this local/global dialogue at the University, in this state, and in the United States?
How might we highlight and communicate this reality of our local and global work, so that it is increasingly visible to important stakeholder groups like prospective students, faculty candidates, research partners, alumni and future employers of our students?
Leading Together Fundraising Campaign
It was a year ago that Bloomberg announced the Humphrey School’s $20 million Leading Together fundraising campaign, to fund more student scholarships, support faculty research and development, and broaden the School’s global reach and impact. The campaign has raised over 70 percent of the goal so far, she reported Wednesday.
Bloomberg announced progress on two specific student support efforts that will award their first scholarships this spring.
Josie Robinson Johnson Fellowship
The Josie Robinson Johnson Fellowship, which will support graduate students at the School who have specific interests in addressing racial inequities and injustice, was announced last year. The School will confer that fellowship to an incoming student this spring for admission in the fall of 2019. “I couldn’t be happier about the launch of that program,” Bloomberg said.
The School will soon begin remodeling one of its large public meeting rooms to become the Josie Johnson Community Room, a space that community organizations can use for public forums, planning sessions, and the like. Renovations will begin in May.
Jane C. Freeman Rural Policy Internship Fund
Bloomberg announced a new scholarship fund in memory of Jane Freeman, former first lady of Minnesota who died last year at age 96. She and her husband, former governor and former US Agriculture Secretary Orville Freeman, were longtime supporters of the Humphrey School.
To honor the memory of Jane Freeman, we will launch a fund to support internships for students who are seeking to do work in rural America, focusing on rural policy issues. It's an area where we can grow as a school, where we can do a better job of supporting our students to be engaged in the issues that are really relevant outside of urban areas; things like broadband access and connectivity, water quality, and affordable housing. It's not cheap for a student to relocate for the summer, and so we want to create a fund in Jane's memory to help cover those costs. We will award the first internship scholarship this spring.
One of the School’s gathering spaces, the Orville and Jane Freeman Commons, is dedicated to the couple, and displays numerous photographs illustrating their leadership in public and private life. Bloomberg announced that this public space will be remodeled over the summer as well.