The LBJ School has changed almost beyond recognition since the first class graduated in 1972. Back then, students were individually selected and mentored. They came generously funded with full- tuition scholarships and stipends for living expenses. In many cases they were taught by faculty members who had, until recently, been senior members of the Johnson Administration. President Johnson himself was a regular presence around the School that bears his name.
We are much bigger now, and we are regrettably unable to provide funding to all. Like other public policy schools, our faculty has become more “academic” in composition and we are no longer as tightly connected to Washington, D.C. as we once were.
But the essence of the School, I am happy to report, has remained the same. We distinguish ourselves among public policy schools by being not only among the top academically, but also by our focus on experiential learning. Following President Johnson’s mandate, we prepare our graduates to be not only thinkers but also “doers.” Despite our increased size – over 340 students are enrolled now – we are still a close-knit community.
Above all, our students (as well as our faculty and staff) are still fired by the same spirit of public service. It is what I call “applied idealism” – the passionate commitment to help make the world a better place, and the determination to do it one project, one person at a time. Abstract political correctness is not enough for us; we want to be positive agents of change. We are proud of our reputation as a school whose graduates know how to get things done. Our alumni go on to do amazing things in service of the greater good, and they remain deeply connected to the School and the hope for the future that it represents.
We are embarked on an ambitious agenda that will take the early vision of the Johnson School to an even higher level. Academically, we are stronger than ever. We are increasingly seen as among the most innovative of public policy schools. In just the past year, we have created an LBJ School Washington Program that will soon evolve into a full semester in D.C. with a strong experiential dimension. We have created new international partnerships in Mexico, Japan and Germany (with Egypt next in line) so that students can spend a full semester immersed in another culture and academic environment. We want all our students to have a strong connection to national-level politics and to graduate with global sensibility and preparation.
It is a wonderful time for the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Great as it is and has been, its best days are still ahead of it. I invite all of you – alumni, students, staff, faculty and friends – to join in the adventures that lie ahead.
Robert Hutchings, Dean