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A Letter from the Dean

News Type Public Address

To mark the 60th anniversary of John Glenn’s orbit of Earth in Friendship 7, several Glenn friends and family visited the historic launch site in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Feb. 20. We also had the privilege to tour the space company Blue Origin’s production facility of the New Glenn, a soon-to-be-launched reusable rocket named after Senator Glenn.

Simultaneously looking backward and forward on the same day was a remarkable reminder about what humans can do when we marry the power of science with public purpose and private ingenuity.

Trevor Brown
Dean, John Glenn College of Public Affairs

Senator Glenn is often heralded as a man of singular achievements — first American to orbit the earth, oldest human (for a time) to venture into space and longest serving Ohio senator. But were he still alive, he would have been the first to say that these accolades were misplaced — his successes were born of teams of which he was only a member. Teamwork makes the dream work.   

This orientation toward partnership is deeply embedded in the spirit of the college. When the then-John Glenn School of Public Affairs applied to become Ohio State University’s 15th college, we pledged to serve as an integrator on campus for public policy, management and finance and a connector to public and nonprofit stakeholders outside the university. One of the signature values of the college is collaboration and inclusion. We aspire to be a welcoming, cooperative and supportive community.  

Addressing the Ukraine Crisis

From the late 2000s through 2014, the John Glenn College of Public Affairs ran the Parliamentary Development Project, a United States Agency for International Development funded program to provide technical assistance to Ukraine’s democratic parliament. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation and its civilians, and it threatens to erode the great strides Ukraine has made in becoming a free and open democracy. Since the invasion began, the Glenn College has held a variety of programs for students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members on the state of the invasion, the roots of the conflict and the pathways forward for peace and stability. The Glenn College seeks to work with partners in and around the university to promote a peaceful resolution to the conflict and a return to Ukraine’s democratic trajectory.

There are countless examples of this collaborative spirit. In the teaching and learning arena, we offer multiple dual degree programs with partners across campus, and typically half of the students in our Washington Academic Internship Program come from other colleges. We have also built bridges to other departments, schools and colleges through joint faculty appointments and shared staff members. In the outreach and engagement arena, our Dialogue community conversation series, in partnership with WOSU, provides open discussions about timely and topic public issues, and our Congressional Conversation series with the Moritz College of Law affords students from Glenn and Moritz the opportunity to engage with sitting members of the U.S. Congress from both the House and the Senate. In this issue of Public Address, you can also read about how this bridge-building ethos undergirds our Public Leadership Academy for rising state and local elected officials here in Ohio; we seek to bring together Democratic and Republican leaders from across the state to establish mutual understanding, respect and trust. 

As the College has grown and established a national and international presence, we’ve sought to carry this collaborative orientation to bolster the field of public affairs, administration and policy. At the start of the pandemic, we helped launch the Big Ten Network of Public Affairs Deans and Directors, a group that brings the leaders of Big Ten public affairs programs together monthly to share best practices and foster collaborative partnerships. I now serve as the chair of the Volcker Alliance’s Dean’s Summit, a national network that unites leaders of public affairs programs from across the country to incubate new ideas and initiatives to move the field in new directions and connect to new audiences.  

Knitting together different perspectives, experiences and capabilities leads to the public goods that strengthen communities, whether they be communities of scholars, students, practitioners or our neighbors. Senator Glenn long understood the power of community and collaboration, and he infused that spirit into the Glenn College. We attempt to continue that legacy as we grow the college and serve as citizens in the field of public affairs education, research and practice.