LBJ School

Ambassador Robert Hutchings has served as the dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs since 2010. He is stepping down in August.

Photo Credit: Sasha Haagensen | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of Q-and-A’s with UT’s deans. Ambassador Robert Hutchings is dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, UT's graduate public policy school. He assumed the position in 2010 and recently announced that he will be stepping down in August. From 1992 to 1993, he served as a special adviser to the secretary of state with the rank of ambassador.


The Daily Texan: Could you tell us a little bit about the LBJ School?


Robert Hutchings: We are one of the larger schools of public policy and one of the oldest. We have been around almost 45 years. We have 350 students, more or less.


We have got a reputation, certainly in Texas, as being the gold standard for public policy schools. One of the things we are trying to work on is to strengthen our image globally. We are opening the LBJ Washington Center, admitting that first class right now. It really makes it more competitive with the other public policy schools that are either in Washington or closer to Washington. So the students will spend one year here [in Austin] and be in Washington to launch their career there.


The other initiative is the executive master’s in public leadership. This is long overdue, I think. And it’s the only one in the state. In a capital like this, with so many state agencies, legislative staffs and nonprofit organizations, it's natural to offer working professionals the chance to get a degree, studying alternate weekends so they don’t have to leave their day jobs.


DT: What does the budget look like now for the LBJ School?


Hutchings: We are in pretty good shape. My whole deanship has seen a net drop in state support for the LBJ School. Frankly, the competition in terms of the faculty salaries has gotten really dramatic. We have to fund those on our own. Now we are entering a period where the financial outlook is much better, with the governor’s positive attitude toward UT Austin and the Legislature’s friendly attitude toward funding.


DT: How important do you find fundraising these days?


Hutchings: It’s very important. I find it’s pleasant and enjoyable… because everything I fundraise for is tied up to a program that I care about. I know for students entering public service careers… it’s hard for them to incur loan debt. That will drive them to the private sector, which is not what we are about.


DT: How much time do you spend on fundraising?


Hutchings: A quarter to a third of my time is related to fundraising, either directly or indirectly.


DT: Where do LBJ students go after graduating?


Hutchings: It’s all over the map. Both figuratively and literally. The largest group of our students are here in Austin. Washington is second, with Houston in third and Dallas a very distant fourth. They are in elective office, federal government, at the domestic and international levels. They are all over state government and city government. Seventy-five percent, over time, go into public service. About 25 percent enter the private sector.


DT: How does the school collaborate with other colleges on campus?


Hutchings: We have lots of specializations and joint degree programs — 27 in total. Some are quite active: Law, Middle Eastern studies, Latin American studies, even Engineering and Business. That’s a way to keep us linked academically with the rest of campus.


DT: How about with the new medical school?


Hutchings: That relationship has really taken off. We have one faculty member with a dual appointment at the Seton Medical Center, which is the first ever such appointment. We have very strong faculty in health policy and health economics. We actually collaborate with Dean Clay Johnston [of the medical school] on a number of things. One is to share office space in Washington, D.C., because he has in mind a Washington presence as well. We are working on a joint curriculum. As they staff up, they will have a joint M.D. and master of public affairs degree.


DT: Why are you stepping down?


Hutchings: I really had the view that one term [six years] was going to be enough. You really need to give the opportunity to someone else with a different set of ideas. I expect to be back as a faculty member for several years.


DT: What do you think your legacy is?


Hutchings: I think the legacy is a number of programs that will last into the indefinite future. The Washington Center, the executive master’s program and the international program. I hope people look back at my tenure and say despite the difficult financial situation, the school built up really important things. It transformed the public image in reality.


DT: What are you trying to do for the rest of your term?


Hutchings: I have six months left, and I want to do as much as I possibly can. One thing that we have been working hard on is a diversity initiative. We have been working with our counterparts in African studies, Latino Studies, History, Government and a couple of other departments. Every public policy school I know struggles to have a diverse faculty and student body. You don’t attract a diverse student body unless you have a diverse faculty. You don’t hire diverse faculty unless there are programs that they are excited about coming to. 

Photo Credit: Ellyn Snider | Daily Texan Staff

An exhibit honoring Barbara Jordan, civil rights activist, congresswoman and former UT professor, opened at the Capitol on Tuesday to chronicle her life and work.

 The exhibit, which will be open until Feb. 15, includes an interactive timeline with information about the phases of Jordan’s life. Among these phases is her tenure as the first black woman elected to the Texas Senate, and her election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1972.

The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs is sponsoring the exhibit along with the Barbara Jordan Foundation and Texas Southern University in honor of Black History Month.

“[Jordan represents] a tremendous amount of history here as a politician and a policy maker here in the state of Texas,” said Susan Binford, assistant dean for communications and outreach at the LBJ School.

Jordan is famous for her extensive work to promote civil rights, including aiding in the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

After she left politics, Jordan worked at the University as a professor in the LBJ School for 17 years.

“She was so popular that they actually had to have a lottery to get in to her class because people wanted to get in and there just wasn’t enough seats,” said Gary Chaffee, archivist from the Barbara Jordan archives and special collections at TSU.

Segregation prevented Jordan from attending UT herself, according to Joseph Parker, board member on the Barbara Jordan Foundation. 

Parker said Jordan made a statement for civil rights when she decided to teach at the University.

“To come and give herself to the University of Texas at Austin is a pretty significant statement, and that alone speaks of a journey that she took,” Parker said. “I think in a lot of ways fundamentally [she] was a teacher — a teacher to the nation.”

Jordan’s civil rights efforts paved the way for current student activists, Parker said.

“They are standing on her shoulders and others who have crossed those acres there at UT,” Parker said. “Whether or not they know it.”

Jordan’s efforts at UT are still appreciated and honored at the LBJ School, Binford said. Although the LBJ School is honoring Jordan this month, Binford said they think about her work year round.

“We are in the business this year of training future leaders who are making policy and going out as public servants,” Binford said. “She is a figure that stands for everything that we are trying to impart.”

Parker said he hopes the exhibition at the Capitol and her lasting impact at the LBJ school will encourage University students to learn more about Jordan.

 “If they hear her name, and they may not know about her, then I would hope they would be curious and say, ‘Let me find out more,’” Parker said. “In doing that, they will realize the contribution that she made, and that she was a figure and icon at the LBJ School.”

The LBJ School of Public Affairs announced this week Thomas O’Donnell as the inaugural director for the new LBJ Washington Center.

In the past, O’Donnell has worked in the White House, the U.S. Senate and the Human Rights Campaign.

“My goal is to create an outpost for UT at Washington D.C.,” O’Donnell said in a statement. 

Beninning in fall 2015, the LBJ School will provide an 18-month federal policy master’s degree curriculum, which will involve six months of graduate school coursework at the Washington Center and an opportunity to be involved in federal policy making.

“Our goal is to follow what President Lyndon B. Johnson once dreamed, which is to involve people from Texas and other parts of the country who want to contribute to public policy,” O’Donnell said.

In addition, O’Donnell said the Washington Center will provide this platform of student engagement in public policy by pursuing extended research, workshops and speaker series, among other activities.

“We want to produce more public leaders at a federal level,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell served as a U.S. Senate chief of staff, managing both national and state offices and as a liaison to the White House and executive branch.

“We are pleased to have such an experienced and proven professional lead our Washington Center and join us in empowering the next generation of leaders to take on national leadership roles,” said Robert Hutchings, dean of the LBJ School, in a statement. “At this time of great change around the world and growing concern about the effectiveness of government, the LBJ Washington Center represents our call to action to advance a new generation of skilled and committed leaders. [O’Donnell] will be essential to the execution of that call to action.”

O’Donnell said the LBJ Washington Center will train future policy makers by playing an open role in the national policy discourse and debate.

“After 20 years in the federal public policy arena, I understand the need for aspiring young policy professionals to be equipped not only with solid theoretical thinking, but also with practical policy skills,” O’Donnell said.

More than 7,500 students signed up for the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Library and Presidential Museum within 24 hours after the student ticket lottery opened Wednesday.

President Barack Obama will deliver a keynote address on April 10 at the event, which will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. His address will be among two days of speeches from former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

The University will award a limited number of tickets through a lottery distribution system to current students who fill out a HornsLink profile. Lottery registration will close at 11:59 p.m. Monday. The general public will have access to free tickets on March 31.

“It’s really important for us to make sure students can be involved because this is such a historic event to have four presidents coming to speak,” said Sara LeStrange, communications manager for the Office of the Dean of Students.

According to LeStrange, it has not been determined how many tickets will be distributed to students.

The LBJ School also has its own lottery for students in the college. According to Kerri Battles, communications manager for the LBJ School, there have been 163 entries since the lottery opened on Wednesday. Currently, there are 319 students enrolled in the school. 

Students will be notified March 28 if they have received a ticket.

Editor’s Note: This is one story in a series of features on external UT foundations that will end Wednesday. 

When former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin was hired to a prominent position at the LBJ School of Public Affairs earlier this year, an external foundation played a critical role in her employment. 

The Barbara Jordan Visiting Professor in Ethics and Political Values chair at the school is one of many financial incentives the LBJ School is able to offer because of contributions from the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation, said Robert Hutchings, dean of the school. 

“We wouldn’t have the faculty support we have without those chairs,” Hutchings said. “We wouldn’t be able to recruit the students we have without that support.” 

Despite accumulating a $157 million endowment, the most of any external foundation linked to UT, executive director Mary Herman said many people still don’t even know it exists. 

“I think the LBJ Foundation has kept a low profile so a lot of people don’t even know we exist, or what we do for the library and the school,” Herman said.

The LBJ Foundation formed in 1969 when President Lyndon Baines Johnson and friends decided to raise money for an endowment that would benefit the public affairs school and presidential library that were being constructed in his honor. A board of directors that meets biannually includes members of the Johnson family, their friends and younger members who have experience in public affairs. The board helps keep the foundation going, Herman said.

Herman said the foundation’s next big plans include events in Washington, D.C., and Austin in 2014 to honor the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed and signed by Johnson.

The foundation gave more than $4.2 million to the LBJ School in 2011, according to IRS documents. Most of the funding is earmarked for endowed chairs for professors and graduate student fellowships, Hutchings said. 

“Although we continue to raise funds for the school and the library, the majority of our funding comes from the endowment,” Herman said. “We’ve been in existence for a while, so we’ve really been able to earn a lot of money on funds that were there in the beginning. We’ve added to that over time, but it’s certainly built on that over time.”

The foundation’s eight employees work closely with the school, said Larry Temple, chairman of the board of directors. 

“From the standpoint of the school, we just try to provide scholarships and fellowships that will help attract the best students and the best faculty,” Temple said. “We don’t get into the business of trying to run that school at all. We try to work to provide the best financial resources available so the school can reach its ambitions.”

The foundation also works with the LBJ Presidential Library to direct funds to a variety of projects, including providing research grants to the LBJ School, administering the Lady Bird Johnson Environmental Awards and redesigning the library — which reopened in December after an $11 million renovation. The foundation contributed more than $2.5 million to the library in 2011, according to IRS documents. 

“Having so many balls in the air at one time, you’ve really got to be proactive and respond quickly and be really nimble in managing all these different interests,” Herman said.

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Printed on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 as: Foundation maintains LBJ funding

This article was corrected after its original posting. The LBJ Foundation was formed in 1969.

Former mayor of Atlanta Shirley Franklin gives a speech over Barbara Jordan’s legacy as a leader of ethics. The luncheon was held in honor of Jordan and emphasized her policy interests. 

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

Members of the Texas Legislature, faculty, students and alumni gathered to honor the life and work of Barbara Jordan at a luncheon Tuesday.

As part of the 17th annual Barbara Jordan Forum, Shirley Franklin, a visiting professor in the LBJ School and former two-term mayor of Atlanta, delivered the keynote address at the luncheon. The event was one of many organized to honor Barbara Jordan, a former congresswoman and LBJ School professor.

The weeklong forum was organized by the Graduate Public Affairs Council to honor Jordan and her policy interests in immigration, gender and orientation equality. 

Garry Davis, public affairs graduate student and president of the council, said he and his co-chairs reached out to other campus organizations to create events for the week.

“The three of us organized the student organizations to get together to collaborate on different brown bags and different events to honor Barbara Jordan,” Davis said. “It’s essentially honoring Barbara Jordan and her legacy because she played such a huge role as a professor at LBJ when she was here.” 

At the luncheon, Franklin spoke about Jordan’s legacy as a leader of ethics and asked the question, “Who are the next Barbara Jordans?” 

“Something within Barbara Jordan propelled her to be the person we celebrate today,” Franklin said in her address.   

Franklin also spoke about Jordan’s work as a professor at the LBJ School and the lasting impression she left. 

“People 20 years from now will look back and say not only did Barbara Jordan teach at the LBJ School … ” Franklin said, “Her spirit, her soul, her commitment is in the fiber of everything that happens.”

Public affairs graduate student Raul Sanchez said when he first came to the LBJ School, he was not familiar with Jordan and her work, but he became curious about her legacy.

“I’m really into social justice, so anybody that’s involved in the social justice arena, I’m going to gravitate toward,” Sanchez said. 

Sanchez said the luncheon was great for learning more about Jordan and gaining inspiration from her work. 

“This is an educational activity for me, and it’s something that I want to draw from,” Sanchez said. “What is going to motivate me to keep doing the work I do based on other people’s motivations, and in this instance, it’s going to be Barbara Jordan.”

Published on February 20, 2013 as "Luncheon honors former congresswoman, mayor". 

Texas House Representative Mike Villarreal, in his 7th term as San Antonio’s District 123 representative this session, is also currently pursuing his PhD at the UT Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. His focus at the LBJ school is in education policy, and he hopes to apply that to a teaching career in his future. 

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Though Texas Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, is a UT doctoral student, his interest in supporting higher education in the legislature is rooted in years of research and a passion for supporting future generations.

Villarreal is in his seventh term as a state representative. A Texas A&M and Harvard alumnus, he is currently pursuing a doctorate in public affairs at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, where he says he hopes to apply his concentration in education policy to a teaching career in the future.

“My focus at the LBJ School is on education policy,” Villarreal said. “Most of my courses are training me, honing my econometric skills, and I think from this experience I’m going to achieve my dream of teaching and writing in the areas that I legislate in.”

Aleksandra Malinowska, public policy graduate student at the LBJ School, is in the same cohort as Villarreal, and said he is a positive force both in and outside the classroom.

“He does have a perspective and so he brings it into a lot of our theory classes,” Malinowska said. “He’s able to inform us on current things that are happening. He’s always discussing about how the theory we’ve learned, he can put into practice. He’s hosted dinners at the Capitol before and he’s a truly nice person.”

After completing his master’s degree at Harvard, Villarreal said he launched a grassroots campaign in 1999 for state representative, opposing a candidate supported by previous legislators in the San Antonio area and several other members of the local political community. One major facet of his campaign involved going door-to-door passing out surveys for community members to fill out about their thoughts and needs.

“I went one door at a time for nine months,” Villarreal said. “I knocked on 4,000 doors. I lost a whole lot of weight. It was a grueling experience, but it was a wonderful community-building experience.”

On election night, Villarreal said, he won by a single vote.

During this legislative session, his agenda is focused primarily on education and tax policies as a way to invest in the future of Texas, Villarreal said.

“Number one on my agenda is to try to fight for greater investment in higher ed [sic], in public ed, but also to make some reforms,” Villarreal said. “I think that if I’m going to be an advocate saying that we need to invest more, I also need to be willing to get under the hood and figure out how to make our public institutions that deliver this service more [effective].”

Villarreal said he is proposing various education reforms, including altering the way TEXAS grants are awarded to university students and funding full days of pre-kindergarten, as opposed to the current practice of half days.

“We know that in the entire education pipeline, you get your biggest bang for your buck early on,” Villarreal said. “If you start delivering quality early education to three and four-year-olds, the costs of educating them decreases in later years.”

Villarreal said many of the policies he strives for come directly from heavily researched numbers. Jenna Cullinane, public policy graduate student, said the ability for Villarreal to take his research from the LBJ School and directly apply it to legislation is a positive connection.

“It’s really not research just for research’s sake,” Cullinane said. “It’s research with a purpose. I think the fact that he’s a legislator doing this degree is pretty great because he takes what he’s learning and can apply it directly.”

Villarreal said he is grateful for the experience of going back to school and draws personal inspiration from the students and faculty he sees when he is on campus.

“It just brings joy to be surrounded by scholars and students and walk across campus and see all the young students who are the future of Texas,” Villarreal said. “Whenever I come back from UT, I feel optimistic about the future — that we’re going to be alright. So when I come [to my office], I’m trying to do my best to make sure that we leave this state in a better way than we found it for the next generation.”

Printed on Friday, January 18, 2013 as: Legislative Learning 

Former two-term mayor of Atlanta, Shirley Franklin, will be serving as a visiting professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs this spring.

Franklin, who served as mayor of the city from 2002 to 2010, will be the college’s first Barbara Jordan Visiting Professor in Ethics and Political Values.

Robert Hutchings, dean of the LBJ School, announced Franklin’s position Tuesday. Hutchings said discussions about filling the professorship began last year.

“I had talked to some alumni, faculty, friends of the school and her name came early,” Hutchings said. “It was not a hard decision; Shirley Franklin is an inspirational figure. I see her playing a crucial national role later on.” 

Franklin was the first female mayor of Atlanta and the first African-American woman to be elected mayor of a Southern city. She was also president of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors and was selected by Time magazine as one of the five best big-city mayors in 2005.

The Barbara Jordan Chair in Ethics and Political Values was created almost 15 years ago but remained vacant until Franklin’s appointment. Jordan was the first black woman elected to the Texas Senate and the first black woman from the South to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She also served as a professor at the LBJ School from 1979 to 1996.

“Barbara Jordan’s legacy was so extraordinary that it was hard to find someone to fill it,” Hutchings said, “which is why the position was vacant for so long.”

Franklin said she is humbled to have her name associated with Jordan.

“When I think of Barbara Jordan I think of integrity, intelligence, courage, persuasion and compassion for the poor,” Franklin said. “I am so thankful.”

Franklin visited UT for the first time in the fall of 2012, when she met with community leaders, students, faculty and representatives of the LBJ Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the college and the LBJ Presidential Library. Franklin said she is looking forward to her new role.

“Austin is a city that for a very long time mayors looked for best practices and innovation,” Hutchings said. “I am looking forward to see what the students have to tell me.”

Hutchings said that he is very proud to have Franklin among the faculty, although her role and the classes she will teach have not yet been determined. 

“More than a specific set of responsibilities, she adds an ethical and moral dimension to the school and the University that we didn’t have before,” Hutchings said. “We are still to talk which classes in specific she might even be giving.”

Franklin is interested in studying trends in megaregions, shaping environmental policy and fighting poverty. Franklin will also play a crucial role in the development of a new urban management program.

“I don’t have the typical credentials of an academic, but I have a lot of practical experience,” Franklin said. “You will find that I have a long history in the issues of fighting poverty and homelessness. There is a lot of expertise in government, and I would like to help build bridges.”

Junior economics major Eric Alanis, who is also an aide at the Texas Capitol, said Franklin’s appointment is a great opportunity for students.

“We have the opportunity to study with and meet with one of the best public administrators there is,” Alanis said. “She is committed to reform and isn’t afraid of big challenges: deficit, inefficiency, structural investment, you name it.”

Printed on Thursday, January 17, 2013 as: Prominent mayor to join LBJ faculty 

The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs offered its apologies to 2012 graduates after commencement programs mistakenly read “School of Pubic Affairs."

Document Solutions, the University’s copy and print department, originally printed the error, said Susan Binford, assistant dean of communications at the LBJ School.

Binford said the dean of the school wrote letters to each of the 135 graduates apologizing for the error and promising each graduate three copies of a corrected program in the mail.

“The dean feels strongly in that there’s no value in trying to affix blame to one person,” Binford said. “More than one person failed to catch this error, and all we can do is own up to our mistake, apologize for it and take the necessary steps to make up for it after the fact.”

Binford said Document Solutions absorbed the $533 cost of reprinting the programs as part of their responsibility in printing the error. The graduates were each mailed the corrected programs, she said.

“[Commencement programs] have a great deal of writing, proofing and editing,” Binford said. “Many eyes see these programs, and unfortunately the programs were printed and contained this typographical error which was discovered after the actual commencement took place.”

Binford said the school reached out to various social networks, including Twitter, to apologize for the error publicly.

“I think what’s important to note is that we immediately reached out with just the deepest and sincerest of apologies,” Binford said. 

[Corrected Oct. 1: Because of a reporting error, this story misidentified Kerri Battles, a public affairs specialist, as an LBJ School spokeswoman. The story also should have said the RGK Foundation donated $5 million to the LBJ School, and misidentified the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service as a branch of the RGK Foundation.]

 Ronya Kozmetsky, who contributed millions to a philanthrophic center in the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, died Tuesday at the age of 90.

Ronya and her late husband George Kozmetsky created the RGK Foundation, an independent philanthropic foundation that seeks to create progressive ways to aid the needy.

RGK are the initials of Ronya and George Kozmetsky. Ronya’s daughter Nadya Scott and her son Gregory Kozmetsky, who now heads the Foundation, survive her.

The foundation donated an initial $5 million to establish the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service in the LBJ School, according to the center's website. The RGK Center is an affiliated branch of the foundation.

Kozmetsky’s optimism and belief in giving was galvanizing, said LBJ School dean Robert Hutchings. Her legacies, the RGK Foundation and the RGK Center in the LBJ School, embody the way she looked at helping people, he said.

“I never had the privilege of actually meeting her, but I know of her work,” Hutchings said. “She was an inspiring figure. The real contribution [to philanthropy] that she made was her idealism, and believing in a culture of giving and a culture of philanthropy.”

Through her foundations, her giving expanded not just in Austin but throughout and outside of Texas, Hutchings said.

Her greatest gift was her revolutionary view on philanthropy, he said.

“She took the whole idea of philanthropy on a more systematic basis,” he said. “She understood that as important as it was to provide for the needy, there needed to be this whole culture of giving. I think that’s what the RGK Center has.”

Funeral services are scheduled for 3 p.m. today at Tarrytown United Methodist Church.

Printed on Friday, October 28, 2011 as: Renowned philanthropist dies at 90