John T.S. Keeler, Dean

Dean Keeler

Message from the Dean 2018

In the fall of 1958, Dwight D. Eisenhower was president of the United States, the United Nations included only 82 members (the current count is 193), the Pittsburgh Pirates were playing their games on the site of what is now Posvar Hall, and the Billboard Top 50 featured Sheb Wooley’s “Purple People Eater” and the Coaster’s “Yakety Yak.”  Meanwhile Donald Stone, after a year spent drafting the blueprint for a new professional school, welcomed the first class of GSPIA students to Bruce Hall at the University of Pittsburgh.  Stone envisioned the new school as innovative in many ways, most notably in that it was to be a Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, with degree programs designed to prepare leaders for every level of public service “local to global.” 

As we celebrate our 60th anniversary this year, our founding dean would be proud to know that—in the 2018 US News rankings for Public Affairs—Pitt’s GSPIA is one of only 4 policy schools, and the only public university school, ranked in the top 20 in both “International/Global Policy and Administration” and “Local Government Management”; the other 3 are Harvard-Kennedy School, Syracuse-Maxwell School and USC-Price School.  Moreover, GSPIA is ranked #1 among public university schools and #7 overall in the specialization that reflects our major focus, “International/Global Policy and Administration.” Emblematic of our distinction “local to global” is that in January 2018 GSPIA alumni, Bill Peduto (MPPM ‘11) and Jennifer Liptak (MPA ’98), were serving respectively as Mayor of Pittsburgh and Chief of Staff for the Allegheny County Executive while two others (Eric Whitaker-MPA ’84 and David Reimer-MPIA ’85) were appointed as U.S. ambassadors.

Such rankings are gratifying, but all of us at GSPIA recognize that in the very competitive world of academia we must always be striving to improve our programs.  In that spirit, recent years have featured a concerted effort to enhance our leadership programs, the topic of the cover stories in this year’s issue of GSPIA Perspectives.  We have long offered a course on leadership for our two-year degree students and, beginning several years ago, have also offered such a course for MPPM Online students.  In addition, for the past decade the award-winning director of our Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership, Prof. Kevin Kearns, has been running an innovative extra-curricular “Leadership Portfolio Program” (LPP) to select students willing to devote more than a year to a variety of leadership activities including service as a voting member on the board of a local nonprofit organization.  LPP students also work with Kearns annually to identify and honor “Emerging Leaders” and a nationally known “Exemplary Leader,” the latter of which becomes the subject of a case study on leadership written principally by the LPP students.  

Last year, as detailed in one of the cover stories, Kearns added the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Forum to the Johnson Institute and initiated a new slate of programs to complement our other offerings.  Foremost among these is a specialized “Hesselbein Forum Leadership Program in International Affairs” directed by Senior Lecturer Julia Santucci, formerly a Senior Advisor to the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the State Department, Egypt Director at the National Security Council in the White House, and a Leadership Analyst focused on the Middle East at the CIA.  In addition, beginning last year GSPIA now annually hosts a Hesselbein Forum Executive-in-Residence who provides intensive mentoring on leadership in public service.  The first Hesselbein Executive was Lindsey Anderson (MPIA ‘09), a former winner of the GSPIA Dean’s Award and Presidential Management Fellow who served with distinction as a Senior Advisor at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  In 2018-19 our Hesselbein Executive will be John Rogers (MPIA ‘85), Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC.

Prospective students reading this issue of GSPIA Perspectives are encouraged to join us and benefit from the wide range of leadership programs detailed in the cover stories that follow.

Best regards,

John T.S Keeler, Dean of GSPIA

Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
3601 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260