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Celebrating the O’Neill School’s 50 years of service and research


When Indiana University announced what was then its newest school in 1972, we promised one focused on "problem-solving, public service, and interdisciplinary character."

Last week, we formally celebrated 50 years of what was initially named the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) and is now known around the globe as the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. 

The O'Neill School at IU Bloomington and IUPUI has exemplified service to our state and nation through work at the Public Policy Institute that informs public, private, and nonprofit sectors, directly impacting quality of life in Indiana and throughout the country. The school also established the Washington Leadership Program, which offers students real-world professional experience in our nation's capital. 

Renamed in 2019 in honor of alumnus and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill in recognition of O'Neill's career in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors and a $30 million gift to support programming within the school, it is one of the top-ranked schools of its kind in the country. The school has lived up to the promise of its founding, with recent distinctions that include top rankings for its Master of Public Affairs program and its concentrations in environmental policy and management, nonprofit management, and public finance and budgeting. 

Achievements among the school's outstanding faculty include a 2021 Clarivate Citation Laureate recognition by Distinguished Professor David Audretsch and a 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences by the late Professor Elinor Ostrom, who made history as the first woman to earn the award.

With an alumni network of 37,000, the school currently boasts nearly 3,000 undergraduates, with 800 advanced degree students. Students on the Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses pursue a variety of degree programs including arts management, environmental science, health care management and policy, and public affairs, as well as environmental science and sustainability studies. The IU Northwest School of Public and Environmental Affairs also offers degree programs in public affairs, public management, environmental affairs, and nonprofit management.

The O'Neill School's half-century celebrations emphasize service and align with the school's inspiring mission, and they include an ambitious goal of 50,000 collective volunteer hours tracked in communities across the globe.

Congratulations to the O'Neill School's faculty, students, staff, and alumni who have made an impact not only on IU but on our world for the past 50 years and whose efforts make the future brighter for us all.


Pamela Whitten

Indiana University

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