harles V. Willie G'57, H'92 has seen the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs through the eyes of a graduate student, faculty member, and University administrator. Willie joined the faculty in 1950 while working on his doctorate in sociology, and quickly became immersed in Maxwell's innovative interdisciplinary approach to education. "I've been in the classroom more than 50 years, but I can say my beginning experience at Syracuse University was worth its weight in gold in terms of academic and intellectual formation," says Willie, who recently retired from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, where he had been professor of education and urban studies since 1974. "I experienced the goodwill of professors in geography, history, political science, social psychology, and economics. That interdisciplinary foundation has served me well in my professional career."
Willie, who was named chair of the sociology department in 1967 and vice president of student affairs at SU in 1972, says the insight he gained at Maxwell allowed him to venture into several applied fields in his academic career, including a year on the psychiatry faculty at Harvard. "The Maxwell School gave me a wide range of experiencesI was able to tackle any problem that came my way."
When the Maxwell School opened its doors 75 years ago, what lay inside could be found nowhere else in the United States. Its dedication to citizenship education, professional training in public and international affairs, and a full range of social sciences wasand remainsunique in academia. "In other universities, these functions are handled by separate schools," says Maxwell Dean John L. Palmer. "By combining them, we have an unusual confluence of graduate and undergraduate, liberal arts and professional, theoretical and applied. Among other things, this gives us a strong interdisciplinary orientation. This is the wave of the future in education, but it's always been a tradition at the Maxwell School."
Maxwell continues its traditional work, Palmer says, but the school has taken on an increasingly international dimension during the last decade. "More than 25 percent of our graduate students are from other countries," he says. "Our international program has greatly expanded at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Developing our global orientation has been and continues to be a very conscious effort and priority of the school."To its 700 graduate students, Maxwell offers professional master's and doctoral programs in public administration and international relations, as well as traditional graduate degrees in the social sciences. Its public administration program, the oldest of its kind in the United States, is consistently ranked number one in national surveys. In 1998, U.S. News & World Report named the graduate program in public affairs first in the nation.
Maxwell's multidisciplinary graduate training and research centers include the Center for Environmental Policy and Administration, the Center for Policy Research, the Center for Technology and Information Policy, and the Program on the Analysis and Resolution of Conflicts. Two institutes were established in the nineties to complement the work of these centers and the school's degree programs. The Global Affairs Institute, established in 1993, extends, integrates, and focuses Maxwell's increasing commitment to international studies. The Alan K. Campbell Public Affairs Institute was founded in 1996 to carry on Maxwell's work of improving the quality of democratic governance, government organizations, and citizen participation in all levels of government.
Maxwell, also the undergraduate social sciences division of the College of Arts and Sciences, has 130 full-time faculty members who instruct approximately 6,000 students each year in anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science, and sociology.
More than 7,000 Maxwell alumni hold positions with local, state, national, and international governments, on university faculties, and in nonprofit and private organizations throughout the United States and abroad. "Maxwell credentials allowed me to distinguish myself early in my career," says Susan M. Walter '69, G'71, vice president for government relations at General Electric and chair of the Maxwell School Advisory Board. "The investment and commitment of all the people associated with Maxwell has continued to increase the value of our education there."
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala G'70, H'87 says Maxwell's interdisciplinary studies were solid preparation, both for her career as an educator and as a public policy maker. "When you get to real-life public policy making, it doesn't involve just a single disciplineyou really have to be interdisciplinary," she says. "As the world changes, our fields change, and integrating social sciences becomes increasingly important." Shalala, who has served as president of Hunter College and chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, appreciates the camaraderie the Maxwell School fosters among its graduate students.
"I've spent my whole career trying to recreate the collegial atmosphere of Maxwell," she says. "It was the best way to get an education.