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A Tribute to Dwight Waldo

Richard Stillman, National Academy of Public Administration I first heard Dwight Waldo lecture during the summer of 1968 at Syracuse ni!ersity" I had started the #PA Program and was ho$ing to do %something good% for my country" &he cities were burning after the 'ing and 'ennedy assassinations" (or me) and many others) $ublic ser!ice bec*oned" #y classes seemed boring and irrele!ant to what was ha$$ening at home and abroad" What did administrati!e case law or cost+benefit analysis ha!e to do with the e!ents that seemed to be tearing a$art our country, I considered dro$$ing out" &hen) Dwight Waldo a$$eared as a guest lecturer in -oscoe #artin.s course) %Democracy and the Public Ser!ice"% In his /uiet) thoughtful manner) he s$o*e of the !alue of $ublic ser!ice and its im$ortance for our democracy" 0is $oint1 $ublic administration is an e2citing) worthy calling" It was an %Ah 0a3% moment" All that boring stuff made sense" It could e!en gi!e $ur$ose and meaning to one.s future3 Dwight had that effect on many of us4students) colleagues) and contem$oraries" 5et) he was hardly a Dwight Waldo flamboyant academic self6$romoter" Indeed) he was shy) self6de$recating) and hard to get to *now" 7ut once he o$ened u$) Dwight was a uni/uely warm) wonderful) wise human being) gifted with a wic*ed wit) often directed at himself and fre/uently /uite self6 re!ealing" &y$ical of his humor was the story he told about how he %failed his way u$ward in life"% Dwight was born in 1918 in DeWitt) Nebras*a 9$o$" :;;<) into a family of fi!e brothers and sisters" 0is $arents ran a small general store and farmed but had not graduated from high school" DeWitt was a =rant Wood community with hard wor*) few lu2uries) and regular church going the norm" Dwight cited two achie!ements as a youth1 winning second $lace in a baby contest at two and a hog6calling contest as a teenager" 0e went to college at Nebras*a Wesleyan and transferred to less e2$ensi!e State &eachers >ollege in Peru" 0e wanted to teach high school) but in the midst of the De$ression there were no teaching ?obs a!ailable" &hus) his first failure u$ward1 he left Nebras*a to study $olitical science at 5ale ni!ersity" Why 5ale, Dwight had recei!ed a scholarshi$ and had ne!er been @ast" At 5ale Professor (rancis >o*er suggested Dwight loo* into the burgeoning literature of $ublic administration from the angle of his interest in American $olitical theory" Dwight first !iewed the materials with distaste) e!en as nonsense) hardly e/ual to Plato) Aristotle) 0obbes) and other greats" 7ut the more he in!estigated) the more he found a $olitical

theory of seminal significance to American go!ernment" 0is 5ale dissertation became one of the most im$ortant boo*s in our field) The Administrative State) and mar*ed him as a young radical in the field" When he graduated as a newly minted Ph"D") there were no uni!ersity teaching ?obs offered4his second failure u$ward" World War II was about to begin and Dwight found wor* in wartime Washington at the Affice of Price Administration) and later at the 7ureau of the 7udget" 9In the former $osition) Dwight ?o*ed he was %America.s (uneral >Bar)% setting national funeral $rices"< &here he learned the !alue of effecti!e $ublic administration4$articularly how difficult it was to $erform as an effecti!e $ublic administrator" Ne!er in his life) he once said) was he assigned a more challenging tas* than mo!ing his unit across the street1 %If I had all those difficulties with a sim$le mo!e) what must it ha!e been li*e $lanning and e2ecuting the D6Day In!asion of @uro$e,% When the war ended) he a$$lied for teaching ?obs and again failure u$ward1 as an assistant $rofessor in 19C6 at the ni!ersity of >alifornia) 7er*eley) he taught e!erything in $olitical science but $olitical theory) the sub?ect of his graduate training" Dwight said those were $robably the best years of his life as a teacher" 0is classes were brimming with !eterans eager to learn" &hey also were intellectually $roducti!e years) when he wrote The Administrative State, Ideas and Issues in Public Administration, and The Study of Public Administration. And who can forget the classic 19:D Waldo6Simon e2change in the APSR, 7y the mid619:;s) Dwight Waldo was recogniBed as a leading scholars in his field4and no longer as a radical outsider" As he /ui$$ed) it was a !ery short distance from being the young radical to fame as an old conser!ati!e" In reality) he was ne!er a conser!ati!e" ntil the end of his life) many !iewed him as %the youngest) creati!e mind% in our field" 0e always as*ed the toughest and best /uestions" Dwight ser!ed in !arious $rofessional assignments in the APSA and as director of the Institute of =o!ernmental Studies at > 7er*eley" @!entually) the (ree S$eech mo!ement) student $rotests) and the election of -onald -eagan as go!ernor in the mid6 196;s brought a different climate to the ni!ersity of >alifornia) forcing Dwight to ma*e the difficult decision to lea!e" &hus) his fourth failure u$ward1 when he let the word out to friends that he was on the mar*et) Dwight recei!ed a doBen offers" 0e chose the Albert SchweitBer >hair in the 0umanities at the #a2ell School" After #a2well) the family mo!ed to (alls >hurch) Eirginia) where Dwight remained acti!e in the field for many years" In 19F9 ASPA named its highest honor for lifetime academic contributions to $ublic administration the Dwight Waldo Award" So) yes) Dwight) you surely failed u$ward in life4u$ward to some $ublic administration hea!en" &hose whom your s$irit touched) nurtured and ins$ired so $rofoundly will sorely miss you"