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O’Leary named to new Maxwell School chair
O’Leary named to new Maxwell School chairSeptember 22, 2008Jill Leonhardtjlleonha@maxwell.syr.edu
Professor of public administration Rosemary O’Leary has been named the inaugural occupant of the Howard and Louise Phanstiel Chair in Strategic Management and Leadership at the Maxwell School. The Phanstiel Chair was established by a $5 million gift from Maxwell School Advisory Board Member Howard Phanstiel and his wife, Louise; Phanstiel also sits on the Syracuse University Board of Trustees.
In funding the chair, Phanstiel says he was motivated not only by his desire to help Maxwell, but also in large measure by what he saw as a failure of government leadership and competence at all levels following Hurricane Katrina. “In the aftermath,” he says, “I was struck by the lack of good leadership skills and decision making at all levels of government. And the cumulative effect of that weak leadership has been disastrous.” He points to the need for more leaders who are “ethical, strategic and innovative thinkers-people who have a vision of achieving something extraordinary as well as the strategy to execute it.”
O’Leary has worked on public management issues for more than 20 years. She cites the importance of “lateral thinking” for today’s public managers. “Those who serve the public are no longer solely unitary leaders of unitary organizations,” she says. “Instead, they are facilitating and operating in multi-organizational networked arrangements to solve problems that cannot be solved, or solved easily, by single organizations, such as in the Hurricane Katrina debacle.”
“The Maxwell School is, indeed, fortunate to have Professor Rosemary O’Leary on our faculty. She is regarded by her professional peers as one of the leading experts in the nation on strategic management and leadership in the public sector,” says Maxwell School Dean Mitchel Wallerstein. “It is not surprising, therefore, that following an exhaustive, two-year, national and international search, the Department of Public Administration recommended her as the most qualified person to be appointed as the first holder of the Howard and Louise Phanstiel Chair in Strategic Management and Leadership. I was delighted to accept the department’s recommendation and to appoint Professor O’Leary to this prestigious new position. She has already laid out some exciting plans for the research that she plans to undertake in her new role, and I look forward to working with her in the coming years as she assumes an important leadership position in the Maxwell School.”
O’Leary, who also holds an appointment in the Department of Political Science, serves as co-director of the school’s Program on the Analysis and Resolution of Conflicts and of The Collaborative Governance Initiative. In addition to her expertise on public management, she has worked on issues relating to environmental policy, dispute resolution and law.
She is author or editor of six books and more than 100 articles on public management and public policy; has won 10 national research awards and eight teaching awards; and is the only person to win three awards from the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration-distinguished research, excellence in teaching and best dissertation. In 2003, O’Leary was awarded SU’s Chancellor’s Citation for Exceptional Academic Achievement, the highest research award at the University.
From 2003-05, O’Leary was a member of NASA’s Return to Flight Task Group, which was assembled in response to the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster. In 2004, she also served as a member of NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel. O’Leary has worked as a consultant to the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution, the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, and the International City/County Management Association. She has twice been a senior Fulbright Scholar.
O’Leary has worked as an attorney and as an administrator in Kansas state government. She earned a J.D. at the University of Kansas School of Law in 1981, an M.P.A. degree at the University of Kansas city management program in 1982, and a Ph.D. in public administration at the Maxwell School in 1988.