spea magazine

In memoriam


SPEA Loses a Warrior for Social Justice . . .

Philip J. Rutledge—scholar, teacher, public servant, and advocate—passes away in January at his home in Silver Spring, Maryland.


rutledge“Phil was the ‘happy warrior,’ always ready to step into the fray,” said SPEA Professor Edwardo Rhodes. “Always ready to expend time, energy, and most definitely dollars for the right cause. Quite literally up to the time of his passing, Phil was busy with the business of public service, sending out e-mails on social justice issues, reminding individuals about project responsibilities and pledges, and sharing with as many as he could reach, his insights and feelings about a vast array of social policy issues. As a friend, I will miss him deeply, as scholars we will all miss his insights and encompassing spirit.”

Rutledge enjoyed a number of government appointments at the national, state, and local levels, and also spent 32 years in academia as a professor and administrator. He was professor and chair of the Department of Public Administration in Howard University’s School of Business and Public Administration; an adjunct professor of public administration at Farleigh Dickinson University; and at Harvard University, a Fellow of the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government.

He came to Indiana University in 1982 and served at various times on three campuses. During his tenure at the university, he was a director of the Center for Global Studies, special assistant to the president of the university, and director of the Division of Public and Environmental Affairs and Political Science at IU Northwest. He retired in 1999, but came back for six months in 2001 to serve as interim associate dean of the SPEA program at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).

His teaching and research interests were in public policy formation, labor force issues, environmental equity, sustainable development, urban management, and international and comparative administration with particular emphasis on governance in Africa. In connection with the latter, Rutledge lectured, conducted research in, or consulted with 22 of the 46 countries on the African continent over the past 32 years. Rutledge was also active in a number of professional, community, and civic organizations.

Astrid E. Merget, dean of SPEA, described Rutledge as a paragon in the field of public affairs, “Whether as a public servant, adamant about achieving social justice through fair and effective public management, or as a professor, dedicated to the next generation of public leaders through imparting his considerable knowledge and wisdom. His imprint on the School of Public and Environmental Affairs is enduring,” said Dean Merget. “He always reminded his students and his colleagues that there was purposefulness and nobility to what we teach, study and translate into action – that is, to improve society for all its citizens here and abroad.”

Memorial contributions may be made to the Rutledge Fellows Program at Indiana University Foundation, P.O. Box 500, Bloomington, Indiana 47402.


And a Founding Faculty Member

York Y. Willbern, one of SPEA's founding faculty members, died in Seattle, Washington i April


willbernSPEA’s Dean Emeritus Chuck Bonser saw York Willbern as one of the keys players that made SPEA work. He chaired the Bloomington Faculty Council Committee in the mid-1960s that first recommended IU should establish a school of public affairs, which then evolved into the all-university committee that recommended a School of Public and Environmental Affairs in 1970,” said Bonser. “When I was asked to be the first dean of SPEA, York was one of the first people I consulted for help. He accepted a joint appointment with us in 1972, and his experience and credibility on campus, and in Indiana government, was indispensable to us, particularly in those early years. York was a man of uncommon dignity, grace, and good judgment – a classic southern gentleman.” 

Willbern was mentor and friend to generations of students and a highly respected colleague within his academic departments and throughout the campuses of Indiana University. In 1964, President Herman B Wells bestowed to Dr. Willbern the highest Indiana University academic rank of University Professor of Political Science (now known as Distinguished Professor).

Willbern published extensively on the subject of cities, public policy-making, city and regional planning, and education for government service. He received the highest recognition of merit within the public administrative academic profession, including election to the presidency of the American Society of Public Administration and election to the National Academy of Public Administration. His distinguished involvement in public service included work with various local, state, and federal government agencies.

“Since its founding in 1972, SPEA was the academic home for one of the legends in public administration: York Willbern,” reported Astrid E. Merget, SPEA’s dean. “His academic credentials were unparalleled not only in the corpus of his scholarly work and his editorship of the flagship journal, Public Administration Review, but also in his leadership of the field as president of the American Society for Public Administration. In helping to shape SPEA, he was eloquently adamant about demanding that the School spotlight the vitality of our democratic institutions, the imperative of professionalism with accountability, and the legitimacy of politics in a free society – all as essential tenets of public and environmental affairs. He was a giant in the field with an enduring legacy in SPEA that helped propel a young school to national and international stature over the years. ”

Remembrances for York and Johnne Willbern may be made to The Willbern Fund, Indiana University Foundation, Indiana University, 1315 E. Tenth Street, Rm. 312, Bloomington, IN 47405-1701.