U names Brian Atwood as Humphrey Institute dean

Brad Unangst

The University filled another of its open administrative positions last week, naming Brian Atwood dean of the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

Interim University President Robert Bruininks said he finalized the appointment Wednesday. He said Atwood’s international experience, record in governmental leadership and connection to public issues and agencies were the main factors in his decision.

“This will give the Humphrey Institute a much stronger and visible profile in Minnesota and strengthen its connections to national and international issues,” Bruininks said.

Atwood presides over Citizen’s International, an organization that uses public-private partnerships to address the social and economic needs of underdeveloped countries. He led the United States Agency for International Development from 1993-99, where he coordinated the Kosovo Relief Operations and headed missions in Israel, Rwanda, Haiti and El Salvador.

From 1981 to 1982, Atwood was the dean of professional studies and academic affairs at the Foreign Service Institute and taught international diplomacy and development at Harvard University and Hamilton College.

Atwood will begin Oct. 1, pending Board of Regents approval. He will earn $200,000 per year.

“The Humphrey is one of the best (public affairs institutes) in the country, and I would like to make it better,” Atwood said. “I want to inspire young people into government at the local, state or national level.”

Atwood said Minnesota has a great tradition of service and he plans to emphasize international policy and the management of public institutions.

The appointment ends a yearlong search to replace John Brandl, who is returning to teaching after six years as dean.

Some students and faculty criticized the search committee last spring when it named four white, male candidates for the position, including Atwood. They said the choices were contrary to one of the institute’s main missions – to educate the public on civic affairs, including those in broad and diverse communities.

Scott Marshall, president of the Public Affairs Student Association, said he is confident Atwood’s leadership experience will guide the institute through the transition time and said he plans to discuss diversity concerns with Atwood early in his term.

“I think the diversity question is definitely not a destination we will reach any time soon,” Marshall said. “I definitely think it is a process we need to go through and address little bit by little bit.”

Related Article: