Accountability and the Public University

While all of Indiana University's schools and departments engage in cutting-edge research, offer stimulating classes, and provide important public assistance and service, the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) is especially noteworthy for its concern for and commitment to the provision of research in the public service. From assessment of state lotteries as revenue sources to evaluation of the impact that women of the developing world have on the implementation of public policy; from clean lakes programs to models of mediation used to resolve equal employment opportunity disputes; from evaluation of the AmeriCorps national service programs to examination of the way in which climate change affects biological and economic aspects of Midwestern agriculture; from development of a comprehensive pollution prevention strategy for northwest Indiana's steelmaking industry to determination of the conditional effect of social class on the dropout-delinquency relationship, SPEA faculty are addressing the needs of our communities, cities, states, nation, and world.

spealogo Prepared on the school's twenty-fifth anniversary, this issue of Research & Creative Activity provides the opportunity to reflect not only on SPEA's accomplishments, but on Indiana University's long commitment to relevance and public accountability. A bit of history illustrates how the university has long been concerned with ensuring the relation of its resources and programs to the needs of the citizens of Indiana and the nation.

Soon after his appointment as chancellor of Indiana University Bloomington in 1968, Byrum Carter formed a committee on university priorities. Immediately, the committee received memoranda from two professors of political science. York Willbern, professor emeritus of public and environmental affairs and University Professor Emeritus of Political Science, described the need for a public affairs program at IU. Lynton Caldwell, professor emeritus of public and environmental affairs and Arthur F. Bentley Professor Emeritus of Political Science, urged the creation of a center to study problems of the environment.

Faculty deliberation ensued, and two years later an initial proposal incorporating both worthy suggestions was ready for formal consideration. When the proposal, which urged the formation of a new school, was presented to the University Faculty Council in 1970, John Ryan (then chancellor for the regional campuses) suggested that any such new school should not be restricted to the Bloomington campus, but should be chartered systemwide, with operations on all campuses of IU. While the faculty council considered this amendment, John Ryan became president of the university. When the proposal was formally adopted by the council in March of 1971, the recommendation to the Trustees of Indiana University was for the establishment of a new School of Public and Environmental Affairs, to operate systemwide, as Ryan had suggested.

The trustees approved the recommendation that same month, but it elaborated on the original proposal. The trustees outlined the need for such a school as one important mechanism whereby the university could assure accountability for its public mission. To ensure adherence to its desire to meet that need, the trustees directed the school's efforts toward several specific charges: the delivery of high quality educational programs at the undergraduate, master's, and doctoral levels; the provision of high-quality public service; and the conducting of research in the interest of public service. As mandated by the trustees, the School of Public and Environmental Affairs was organized as a university-wide school "to facilitate the full mobilization of the resources of the university in dealing with those public problems to which the university can and should bring assistance" and to engage in "activities directed toward the solution of local, state, and national problems."

While all university research and creative activ-ity is of value, the establishment of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs clearly represented a concerted effort to epmhasize those research and creative activities intended to be of immediate public and environmental benefit. In noting that the school's founding was premised on "growing evidence throughout the state (and throughout the nation, as well), that people would like to see the universities dealing more effectively and dispassionately with the needs and problems of modern society," the trustees anticipated current public and legislative calls for accountability in higher education, particularly with respect to university-based research activity.

Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs has taken its mandate from the trustees seriously. The school now operates on six campuses of Indiana University--Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indiana University Northwest, Indiana University South Bend, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, and Indiana University Kokomo. The School also offers the associates' degree on the IU East campus, but has no faculty assigned there. With well over one hundred full-time faculty members, an annual base budget of over $18 million, full-time equivalents of some 1,600 undergraduate and 600 graduate students, and a number of active and vital research centers, SPEA is the largest school of public and environmental affairs in the nation. The school's faculty, professional staff, and researchers are engaged in several million dollars of sponsored research activities annually and produce hundreds of scholarly and technical reports of that work each year.

From its beginnings in 1971, SPEA has evolved into a large, complex, and well-respected program. Quality ratings of such schools consistently rank IU among the best university-based programs in the country. (Only Harvard's Kennedy School and Syracuse's Maxwell School rivaled SPEA in the last Gourman Report. The Bloomington program recently was ranked fourth in the nation among such programs by U.S. News and World Report, and SPEA programs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis also were lauded by that magazine.)

The mission given to the school by the trustees has been critical to its success. Equally important has been the vision and commitment of Charles Bonser (Ameritech Endowed Chair in Economic Development), the founding dean, and A. James Barnes, the school's current dean. Together, these leaders have assembled an eclectic faculty whose areas of expertise reach across the arts and sciences and professional disciplines (some thirty, at last count), but who are united through their common interest and focus on important local, state, national, and international problems of public and environmental affairs.

The school's faculty and curriculum are organized around substantive areas of expertise and interest rather than around traditional academic disciplines. Each of its seven faculty groups (public finance and policy analysis; health science and administration; environmental sciences and policy; policy and administration; urban and regional analysis and planning; criminal justice, law, and public safety; and policy analysis) is directed by a systemwide faculty chair, and most SPEA faculty are members of more than one of these groups.

This issue of Research & Creative Activity illustrates important faculty work in several of the school's areas of emphasis. We were unable to cover all areas, and only discuss a handful of faculty in depth; but throughout this issue, it is easy to see how the school's mandated concerns for public and policy relevance find expression in all three traditional areas of university work: teaching, service, and research. The articles describe university faculty working together to transcend disciplinary boundaries, and they amply illustrate how IU-based research--as conducted by SPEA, and in collaboration with colleagues from all parts of the university--contributes directly to the quality of life of our citizenry, the effectiveness of our governments and governmental agencies, and the resolution of important and often pressing and controversial social and environmental problems. This is truly university research in the public service.

Stephen D. Gottfredson
Professor of Public and Environmental Affairs
School of Public and Environmental Affairs
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
School of Public and Environmental Affairs
Indiana University