Newswise — Washington, D.C. – January 3, 2019 – A collective of six schools of public affairs announced today the launch of the new Public Affairs Diversity Alliance, uniting top public affairs and policy schools across the country that share a commitment to encouraging, training, mentoring, and promoting diverse scholars of public affairs and policy. The Alliance, the first of its kind in public affairs, seeks to encourage and sustain a pipeline of candidates for faculty positions in criminal justice, policy, and public administration.

Research over the last decade has shown that, when faculty identities mirror that of students, the student outcomes can improve. Faculty members who are concerned with education disparities may spend additional time with and generate more positive reinforcement when teaching students from diverse backgrounds and may choose to mentor them outside the classroom.

“The diversity of SPA’s student body – both graduate and undergraduate – has improved over the last decade and continues to do so,” said Vicky Wilkins, Dean of American University School of Public Affairs. “We want to ensure that we are retaining a diverse set of students who choose to stay in academia as they complete their graduate work, and that those candidates feel a sense of inclusion among their peers. The Alliance can play a role in strengthening a group of qualified and talented diverse candidates – from creating a welcoming post-doctoral experience to providing ongoing professional development and networking platforms. All member institutions and their students will benefit from increased access to a robust, inclusive candidate pool.”

American University School of Public Affairs, which initiated and founded the Alliance, will chair the Public Affairs Diversity Alliance for a two-year term. Five other schools have joined as inaugural members: the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, the Price School at the University of Southern California, and the Evans School at the University of Washington.

Each institution will commit to hiring up to two Alliance post-doctoral fellows or visiting scholars annually, and will appoint both an internal and an external mentor to maximize networking and professional development. The Alliance will also take an active role in helping doctoral students achieve success as faculty members through programming.

Universities are among the largest public organizations in the United States, providing services to millions of students per year and serving as drivers of regional economies. These institutions are jointly responsible for helping students gain access to jobs and financial stability. The Public Affairs Diversity Alliance was inspired by the Diversity Alliance of the Association of College & Research Libraries, which was also founded at American University in 2017. 

Quotes from Public Affairs Diversity Alliance Members:

Evans School of Public Policy & Governance at the University of Washington

“We believe the Diversity Alliance will be critical to the success of schools of public policy,” said Sandra O. Archibald, Dean, Evans School of Public Policy & Governance. “The Alliance will contribute to the preparation of our next generation of scholars.”

Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan

"We are pleased to join as a founding member of the Diversity Alliance, which will help us build on our strong track record of diversity, equality and inclusion," said Michael S. Barr, the Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of Public Policy at the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. “Diversity and openness are core to our strength as an institution." 

Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University

“As governance becomes more global, intersectoral, and complex, public administration and policy programs must become more effective in engaging faculty, students, and practitioners that represent a broad range of backgrounds and perspectives,” said David M. Van Slyke, Dean, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. “Developing a more diverse and inclusive environment of public administrationists will contribute energy and creativity to addressing the challenges of public sector governance. The Maxwell School is very pleased to collaborate with our Alliance partners in championing this important initiative.”

Price School at the University of Southern California

“The Price School is proud to be a founding member of the Public Affairs Diversity Alliance, which takes a proactive and innovative approach to making our fields more inclusive and representative,” said Jack Knott, Dean of USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy. “We are deeply committed to this vital effort and look forward to working collaboratively in order to have the greatest possible impact.”

Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University
“At Sanford, we improved our recruiting practices with a goal of hiring a greater number of scholars from under-represented groups, and we are just beginning to see the benefits,” said Judith Kelley, Dean, Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. “The Public Affairs Diversity Alliance is another valuable step in the right direction. I look forward to working with our colleagues to build a vibrant, supportive program for young scholars.”

For more information about the Public Affairs Diversity Alliance, please contact Natasha Abel, [email protected] and 202-885-8943.   



In its 125-year history, American University has established a reputation for producing change makers focused on the challenges of a changing world. AU has garnered recognition for global education, public service, experiential learning and politically active and diverse students, as well as academic and research expertise in a wide range of areas including the arts, sciences, humanities, business and communication, political science and policy, governance, law and diplomacy.