Humphrey School News

Humphrey School’s Lee Munnich wins President’s Award for Outstanding Service

May 3, 2016
Portrait of Lee Munnich

Lee Munnich, senior fellow and a longtime leader at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, has been chosen to receive the University of Minnesota President’s Award for Outstanding Service.

Munnich led the State and Local Policy Program at the Humphrey School for 25 years. He retired from the director position in 2015, but still teaches and does research part time. His research focuses on transportation’s role in the community, congestion pricing, rural transportation safety, and economic competitiveness strategies.

University President Eric Kaler presents the Outstanding Service Award each year to recognize faculty and staff who have provided “exceptional service” to the University that goes well beyond their regular duties and demonstrates “unusual commitment to the University community.”

“True to the mission of this great land-grant institution, you have done more than your share to make the University of Minnesota one of the preeminent institutions in the nation,” Kaler said to Munnich in a letter informing him of the award.  “Your excellence is a model for your colleagues and coworkers to emulate.”

Munnich called the award a great honor, saying he is pleased that his peers at the Humphrey School nominated him for the recognition.

“There are a lot of great people I’ve worked with over the years who are dedicated to the common good and community service,” Munnich said. “So it’s a great honor to be recommended by them.”

Eric Schwartz, dean of the Humphrey School, said Munnich is a well-deserving recipient of the award.

“Throughout his career, Lee has made enormous contributions to the health and well-being of the Humphrey School, the University of Minnesota, and to the State of Minnesota,” said Schwartz. “His contributions reflect a deep commitment to the University and to public life.”

Among his many accomplishments, Munnich spearheaded discussions with transportation stakeholders and decision makers on how to reduce traffic congestion, which led to the implementation of MnPASS lanes on highways in the Twin Cities metro area. He also introduced new methods of thinking about economic development to the Midwest.

Munnich has also had a distinguished public service career. He served two terms on the Minneapolis City Council in the mid-1970s, and held various positions in state government, including deputy commissioner of the Department of Trade and Economic Development when it was headed by now-Governor Mark Dayton. 

The recognition is particularly significant, Munnich said, because of his personal connection with a previous award recipient, former Humphrey School Dean Edward Schuh.

Munnich was the chair of the school’s awards committee in 2008, when it nominated Schuh for the Outstanding Service Award. Schuh was named one of the recipients, but died shortly afterward.

“[Schuh] was a mentor for me when I started out at the school and the university,” Munnich said. “It’s really significant because I have a tremendous amount of respect for him.”

Munnich is one of 12 University of Minnesota faculty and staff receiving the President's Outstanding Service Award this year. They will be recognized at the next meeting of the University’s Board of Regents on May 13, and at an event hosted by Kaler at his official residence on June 16. Each will receive a one-time $1,000 stipend, as well as an engraved crystal award piece, a commemorative pin, and a certificate.

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