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Department of Public Administration and Policy

Announcing a Symposium Honoring the Life, Legacy, and Contributions of John Rohr

October 26-27, 2012 

David Rosenbloom, Distinguished Professor of Public Administration and Policy and Stephanie Newbold, Assistant Professor of Public Administration and Policy, announce a symposium to be held on October 26 and 27, 2012 honoring the life, legacy, and contributions of John Rohr to the study and practice of public administration. John Rohr died this past summer and this occasion will celebrate his invaluable contributions to the field of public administration. The symposium will focus on the three areas of Rohr’s scholarship that continue to have the greatest impact on the field today: comparative constitutional analysis, regime values, and public service ethics. The main objective is to highlight the continuing value of Rohr’s normative perspective for public administrative thought and to spur additional inquiry into these three areas by contemporary students of administrative theory. Some of the most prominent scholars in the field will be invited to AU in an effort to fully discern how Rohr’s work broadened the scope of public administrative thought and provided an agenda for future research and theory building.

Photos from the 2012 Symposium

A second purpose of this symposium is to further institutionalize a series of symposia in which DPAP regularly recognizes and celebrates Great Thinkers in Public Administration. The foundation for this idea dates back to 2005 when DPAP organized a symposium that brought together leaders in the field to contemplate the continued importance of Dwight Waldo’s classic work, The Administrative State. Several of the papers presented at this symposium were subsequently published in Revisiting Waldo's Administrative State (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2006), edited by Howard McCurdy and David Rosenbloom. The book establishes more definitively the continued relevance of Waldo’s work to contemporary administrative theory and practice.

 Both professors Rosenbloom and Newbold have personally benefitted from Rohr’s contributions to public administration scholarship. As Professor Rosenbloom explains: “John and I were classmates in the political science doctoral program at the University of Chicago in the mid-1960s. We were both heavily influenced by Professor Herbert Storing’s approach to public administration, which is explained in the 2010 Public Administration Review article, ‘Recovering, Restoring and Renewing the Foundations of American Public Administration: The Contributions of Herbert J. Storing,’ to which we both contributed. John undoubtedly had better notes, but we were always more or less on the same page. Our work was intertwined in its analysis of the impact of the U.S. Constitution and constitutional and administrative law on various aspects of public administration, including human resources management, ethics, public employees’ rights, the incorporation of democratic-constitutional values into administrative practice, the legitimacy of the administrative state, and the constitutional roles of civil servants in the political system. In some ways, our basic project was to retrofit the contemporary administrative state into the constitutional regime. We read each other’s work and had countless conversations about it. There are a lot of ‘free floating’ competing frameworks in public administration; we always tried to anchor our work in constitutional and legal arrangements. Over a lunch in 2003, we both agreed one could pretty much reduce our entire careers to two words, ‘constitutions matter.’ We also concurred that if mainstream public administration hadn’t been so resistant to this idea, but rather had readily accepted it, we probably would have had very different careers, if any!”

 As a new scholar of public administrative theory and democratic constitutionalism, Professor Newbold has been significantly influenced by Dr. Rohr. She says: “John Rohr was the most important person in the development of who I have become as a scholar. What John did as well as anyone is demonstrate the validity of historical research. His work on the constitutional legitimacy of U.S. public administration, public service ethics, comparative constitutional studies, and the importance of regime values to the advancement of democratic governance transformed the field of public administration.”

About the Professors:

David Rosenbloom is a leading scholar of public administration and democratic constitutionalism, administrative law, and theory. Author or coauthor of some 300 professional publications, he is a member of the National Academy of Public Administration and the recipient of the Charles Levine, Dwight Waldo, John Gaus, and Louis Brownlow awards for excellence in public administration. Read more

Stephanie Newbold specializes in the intellectual history of public administration and the intersection between the American Constitution and the administrative state. She is the author of All But Forgotten: Thomas Jefferson and the Development of Public Administration. Read more