American University School of Public Affairs (SPA) is saddened to announce the passing of Professor Emeritus Robert Cleary. Fifty years ago, Robert Cleary joined the faculty of American University. Before his retirement in 2001, he served the University and as a faculty member, interim president, provost, and dean of SPA. His legacy to the University was cemented in 2013 with the establishment of the Robert Cleary Award for Excellence in Public Affairs Research.
"American University and the School of Public Affairs owe much to the great contributions made by Professor Cleary—as a teacher, a scholar, a leader, and a colleague,” said SPA Dean Barbara Romzek. “He was and will continue to be recognized by faculty and staff for his significant impact in the field and in the classroom. We are fortunate to have benefited as an institution from his important work."
He received his MA and PhD in Political Science from Rutgers University. Professor Cleary served in the United States Army, a high school teacher in New Jersey, and a faculty member at the George Peabody College for Teachers before joining AU. Last year, Public Administration Review honored Professor Cleary by naming “Why Can’t We Resolve the Research Issue in Public Administration?”—a publication co-written by him and Howard McCurdy—one of the 75 most influential articles in the history of the journal.
Professor Cleary is survived by his wife of 59 years, Lynn Cleary, their three children, and six grandchildren. The Cleary family requests that those wishing to honor Professor Cleary's memory may do so by making a gift to The Robert Cleary Award for Excellence.