Penn Arts and Sciences Ushers in New Era for Fels Institute of Government

Members of the Penn community gathered on Saturday, July 25, to mark the official dedication of the Fox Family Pavilion at the newly renamed Fox-Fels Hall and to celebrate a number of appointments and initiatives that will strengthen the Fels Institute of Government and the School’s commitment to public policy research.

The naming of Fox-Fels Hall, along with the Fox Family Pavilion, recognizes a long history of support from Robert A. Fox, C’52, and Penny Grossman Fox, Ed’53, who have donated more than $30 million to Penn Arts and Sciences in support of the Fox Leadership Program, in addition to their most recent gift to endow the Fels faculty directorship. Dean Steven J. Fluharty noted that their support has “strengthened ties between Fox and Fels, which share not only a building but a mission.”

Dean Fluharty announced the appointment of Professor of Criminology and Sociology John MacDonald as the Penny and Robert A. Fox Faculty Director of the Fels Institute, responsible for overseeing education programs. Dean Fluharty also announced the appointment of Penn School of Design Professor of Practice Mark Alan Hughes as the Faculty Director of the new Fels Policy Research Initiative (FPRI).

As the Fox Faculty Director, John MacDonald will chair the Fels Faculty Steering Committee and focus on organizing standing University faculty to teach core courses at Fels, where they will join practitioners with real-world experience. MacDonald, who also chairs the Criminology Department, is a recipient of the David N. Kershaw Award from the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. The award honors scholars under the age of 40 who have made a distinguished contribution to the field of public policy analysis and management. He will be working with a committee that includes faculty from Penn’s Annenberg School, School of Design, the Graduate School of Education, Law School, the School of Social Policy and Practice, and Wharton, as well as Penn Arts and Sciences.

In addition, Dean Fluharty is establishing the Fels Policy Research Initiative under the leadership of   Penn Design’s Professor Mark Alan Hughes, which will support research by Penn faculty in specific public policy areas. The Fels Policy Research Initiative will build the translational infrastructure to enhance the policy impact of Penn research. On leave from PennDesign, Dr. Hughes served as chief policy adviser to Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and as the founding director of sustainability for the city of Philadelphia, where he led the creation of the Greenworks plan. He was a lead investigator of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Efficient Buildings Hub at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, drafting part of the winning $159 million proposal to DOE and seven other federal agencies, which has supported over $15 million of Penn research. In his faculty position at PennDesign,  Dr Hughes is the founding faculty director of Penn’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, a faculty fellow of the Penn Institute for Urban Research, a senior fellow of the Wharton School’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, and a distinguished scholar in Arts and Sciences’ Fox Leadership Program.

Dean Fluharty noted that these changes advance the School’s new strategic plan, Our Foundations and Frontiers, and its emphasis on advancing public policy. The plan states that universities “have a profound responsibility to use the knowledge they create to address complex public policy questions and social problems” on a local, national, and international level.

“Research being done by faculty throughout Penn can speak powerfully to public policy issues facing the world right now, but we need to draw those resources together to develop analyses and recommendations,” said Fluharty. “Building on Fels’s proud tradition of preparing exceptional students for careers of high impact in the public sector, these initiatives will provide pathways for increased involvement of standing faculty from across the University in public policy teaching and research, more direct interaction with policy makers, and even better preparation for the leaders of tomorrow.”

As of August 1, Dr. Nelson Lim of the RAND Corporation will also join Fels as its new Executive Director. Lim, a senior social scientist at RAND and professor of policy analysis at Pardee RAND Graduate School, has worked for the past 15 years on a wide range of policy issues with local and federal government organizations including police and fire departments, the Department of Defense, and the National Security Administration. He also served as research director for the congressionally mandated Military Leadership Diversity Commission, which conducted a comprehensive assessment of policies that provide opportunities for the promotion and advancement of minority members and women in the Armed Forces.

After moving to America from Burma as a young man, Lim earned his doctorate in sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is known as a student-centered mentor and career advisor, with research interests in social inequality, race/ethnicity, immigration, diversity management, research methodology, quantitative methodology, manpower, and personnel analysis.

Lim will work closely with the Steering Committee to build on the 75-year history of Fels. “Under Nelson’s leadership, we look forward to continuing and enhancing Fels’ proud tradition of preparing exceptional students for careers of high impact in the public sector,” stated Dean Fluharty. “We are delighted to welcome him to Penn.”


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