Humphrey School News—June 20, 2014

Humphrey School Announces James L. Oberstar Endowed Scholarship Fund

Lead gifts come from transportation services company CN

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs is pleased to announce the establishment of the James L. Oberstar/CN Endowed Scholarship Fund, with major funding from CN, one of the country’s largest freight railroads. CN made lead gifts to the in the amount of $190,000. The scholarship fund honors the life of the late United States Representative James “Jim” Oberstar, as well as his leadership and distinguished career in public life.

Scholarships made possible by the endowed fund support students at the Humphrey School with commitments to public service, and encourage students to follow in Congressman Oberstar’s footsteps and become experts and leaders at the local, state, and national levels in public affairs and public policy.

“We believe the fund creates an enduring tribute to the Congressman’s vast contributions to public life, and will connect those contributions to the Humphrey School and our mission,” said Eric Schwartz, dean of the Humphrey School.

With Oberstar’s cooperation and support prior to his death, the Humphrey School established the endowed scholarship fund in January 2014. CN was among the first to step forward with a contribution. To date, $256,500 has been raised.

“We are grateful to CN for its generosity and support of our efforts to educate the next generation of public leaders and policy makers,” said Schwartz. “Their gift honors Congressman Oberstar as not only a major force on transportation and so many other policy issues, but also a great friend and supporter of the Humphrey School, and its mission to educate future leaders to promote the common good.”

Congressman Oberstar’s distinguished career spanned a half century. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975 to 2011, representing the 8th District of Minnesota, which includes the cities of Duluth, Brainerd, Grand Rapids, International Falls, and Hibbing. He served as chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from 2007 to 2011, and as a ranking minority member prior to that. During his Congressional career, Oberstar specialized in transportation policy and has influenced all aspects of the U.S. transportation system.

After leaving Congress, Oberstar joined the Humphrey School as a visiting scholar and chair of the advisory board for the University of Minnesota’s Center for Excellence in Rural Safety. He led several transportation policy forums at the Humphrey School on topics such as innovations in road safety, the St. Croix Bridge, transportation finance, transit, and the freight economy.

The first recipient of funds raised through the new Oberstar/CN Scholarship Fund is Madeline Mitchell, who is pursuing a master of public policy degree at the Humphrey School and has long admired Congressman Oberstar's commitment to public service. She recently commented on being chosen as the first Oberstar/CN Scholarship recipient, saying "the Congressman's work and legacy will continue to inspire and guide me through my time at the Humphrey School. I am truly honored to be the first recipient of this scholarship."

Oberstar passed away at his home in Potomac, Maryland, on May 3, 2014.

To support the James L. Oberstar/CN Endowed Scholarship Fund, visit or call 612-625-9588.

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Humphrey School of Public Affairs
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