The next four decades would find less drama on campus, but many changes in the scope of government and nature of Washington.
"The practice of politics has changed dramatically," University President Neil Kerwin says. "It's highly professional. Congress still performs the same constitutional roles, but it's organized differently. The practice of advocacy for interests has grown immensely more sophisticated. And we've seen an explosion in the role of government agencies that write far more important laws today than Congress does."
SPA's Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies has taken on precisely that issue with its scholarship and teaching, its Campaign Management Institute and its Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute. When Professor Thurber began the center in 1979, it was unique in the United States. Many of SPA's students with an interest in politics had always volunteered on campaigns, but as politics professionalized, SPA was on the cutting edge with its own systematic approach to teaching the business of politics, and with the high visibility of its panels and forums where leaders engage in dialogue with each other and the AU community.
Another center that places SPA squarely in the midst of political power is the Women and Politics Institute. Most of Washington's most prominent women have links with the institute, from Sen. Hillary Clinton to Rep. Nancy Pelosi to dozens of others. Targeted academic programs on women, policy, and political leadership are helping to foster the next generation of women leaders.
SPA's proud tradition of success has put it at the threshold of an exciting new chapter in its history. We have an ambitious vision for the future that builds on our strengths and honors our formidable legacy. By magnifying the impact of faculty research, rewarding excellent teaching and preparing students for multiple paths of success, we will expand our central role in public affairs for a new generation.
As public problems become more complex, interconnected and multigenerational, our scholars and practitioners will work together to produce research that informs today's issues and anticipates and tackles tomorrow's challenges. Practitioners and scholars will learn from each other and share those insights with students. The result will be synergy between theory and practice that has a demonstrable influence on public affairs for both national and international arenas.