New Status for Sanford

August 1, 2009

What's in a name: Sanford, with Rubenstein Hall in foreground, becomes school.

 

Michael Zirkle

The Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy is now Duke's tenth, and newest, school. University officials say that the institute's growth, success, and promise prompted the change.

It has been nearly two decades since Duke's last school, the Nicholas School of the Environment, was created. New dean Bruce Kuniholm A.M. '72, Ph.D. '76, M.P.P. '77, a professor of public policy studies and history at Duke since 1975, had previously served as institute director. He led planning and fundraising efforts for the construction of and move to the Sanford building, which opened in 1994. The institute's second building, Rubenstein Hall, opened in 2005.

Kuniholm says that the transition means that Sanford will now be freer to raise resources and hire more faculty members. "The substantive difference is going to be apparent," he says. "When you get an increased number of faculty members in an increased number of areas, the options for students increase, the mentoring and research opportunities increase, and the chance for engagement increases."

The school's strategic vision calls for building on its strengths in the areas of environment and energy policy, global governance and international development, health policy, and social policy. Because of the inherently interdisciplinary, "real-world" nature of these subjects, Sanford will continue to collaborate with other schools and institutes on campus, Kuniholm says.

Each year, Sanford awards degrees to about 185 undergraduate and eighty-five graduate students, making it one of the country's largest public policy programs. Sanford's graduate degrees include a Ph.D. in public policy, a master's in public policy, and a master's in international development policy. It also offers joint professional degrees in law, business, divinity, medicine, and environmental policy.

The Sanford School will not require incoming freshmen to submit a separate application for admission. Undergraduates will still be able to declare the public policy major as they would any other major.

Terry Sanford, the school's namesake and founder, was governor of North Carolina from 1961 to 1965. He was president of Duke from 1970 to 1985 and is widely credited with launching Duke's transformation to a world-class research institution. He served in the U.S. Senate from 1987 to 1993, and then returned to teach at the policy institute he created. He died in 1998.

Kuniholm says that, to Sanford, "whether we were an institute or a school made little difference. We needed to exist. There was a role for us to play, and he expected us to play it. That we've made a transition to a school would probably be less important to him than the fact that we could continue to do w4hat we were doing well, but do it better and on a greater scale."