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School of Business and Public Management

The George Washington University's School of Business and Public Management was organized as the School of Government in 1928. Programs in business and public administration were gradually added to the school's offerings through 1960, when it was renamed the School of Government, Business, and International Affairs. A division of the school in 1966 resulted in the establishment of the independent, professionally oriented School of Government and Business Administration, later renamed the School of Business and Public Management and then the School of Business.

History of the School of Business and Public Management

The university has offered government and business-type courses for nearly a century, but the institutional entity now known as the School of Business and Public Management (SBPM) had its modern origins in 1928 when University President Cloyd Heck Marvin accepted a million dollar endowment from the League of Masonic clubs to establish what was known simply as the School of Government.

Each of the founding parties had motives born of their times and perceptions. For Marvin, establishing a school to train persons for management positions in both government and business reflected the axiom of the 1920s that business and government were the most promising partners in the nation's future prosperity. Sharing the same perception, the Masonic donors almost certainly hoped as well to challenge the growing preeminence of Catholic Georgetown University in schooling persons for the diplomatic service, a motive circumstantially evidenced by the donors' condition that their gift would be withdrawn if the University ever ceased to be non- sectarian. At the same time, because the Commerce Department of the 1920s had high hopes for expanding American business overseas, the new School of Government included programs in international affairs, taught by liberal arts faculty borrowed from Columbian College.

The triumvirate of business, government, and international affairs remained intact until 1966 when President Lloyd H. Elliot split their faculties into separate schools: one, the School Public and International Affairs which later became the Elliot School of International Affairs; the other, the School of Government and Business Administration which, renamed in 1990, is today's School of Business and Public Management.

Since its founding in 1928 the school has benefited notably, and perhaps uniquely, from the continuing generosity of Masonic groups. Their funding of the Scottish Rite Fellowships and Wolcott Scholarships assured the recruiting of top-ranked students; and what might be called its Masonic Connection continues into the present era in which, Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, himself a Mason, presides over the University.

The school was among the first in the University to acquire its own building. Its Hall of Government, built at the corner of 21st and G streets, was completed in 1938 and dedicated that year in a ceremony appropriately coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. Though not often noted, the Hall of Government owes its existence to the generosity of Hattie M. Strong, the University benefactor whose name is more familiarly associated with Strong Hall, the women's residence on the other side of G Street. Those alumni who have not visited campus recently, say since 1980, will find the Hall of Government now conveniently connected to nearby Monroe Hall, joined as one at all four floors and basement.

Dean and Faculty Influence

Like all academic success stories, the narrative owes much to the leadership of deans and the scholarly eminence of faculty. Among the former, James C. Dockeray, 1967 to 1973, unified the school's programs after its split from international affairs, added new programs and nurtured those, like the then three-year-old M.A. degree in health care administration. When Dockeray retired in 1973, he could claim that half the hospital administrators in the area had his school's M.A. degree in HCA. Dockeray's successor was Peter Vaill whom Elliot recruited from the Harvard Business School, charging him to pursue the school's long-sought goal of securing accreditation. Reportedly, Elliot told Vaill: either get the school accredited or quit trying. Vaill succeeded. During the Vaill era, the school reached an all-time high in graduate enrollments (1,200 masters candidates on campus and 1,100 at off-campus locations) and launched a highly successful doctoral program which, remarkably, offered candidates the opportunity to create their own programs of study.

In more recent times, Deans Norma Maine Loeser and Ben Burdetsky have presided over the institution's gradual transformation from a concentration on business and public administration to a new emphasis on management. It was for his management skills and experience that President Trachtenberg in 1992 offered the deanship to F. David Fowler, a managing partner of KPMG Peat Marwick. Fowler proved to be superbly qualified to lead a school dedicated to, in Burdetsky's words, teaching students how to be effective managers.

Like all academic institutions, the school also builds its reputation on the activities of its outstanding faculty. In the 1970s, Professor Philip Grub arranged for a $1 million grant from the government of Iran to establish the Aryaerh Professorship of International Management. In 1971, Jerry B. Harvey, a social psychologist trained at the University of Texas, came to GW where he became a major figure in the field of organizational behavior. Others, more recently acclaimed for their scholarship, include William Adams, an internationally known expert on polling; Kathryn Newcomer, a well-known policy researcher; and Susan Tolchin, whose series of books on deregulation have received national recognition.

Faculty have also been active in the school's outreach to such government agencies as the General Accounting Office, for whom Tolchin and others have worked in assessing the effectiveness of various federal programs and agencies. This outreach extends as well to the Washington community where for the past dozen years the school has run its Contemporary Executive Development Program, designed for senior federal executives, of whom more than a thousand have now benefited from this six-week course.

Since July of 1998, the deanship has been held by Susan M. Phillips, who until recently was a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Dean Phillips brings to the school her interest and expertise in such specializations as derivatives, bank supervision, and financial management. She inherits the leadership of a school whose past lives up to its promise of continued growth, excellence, and innovation. In 2004, the Board of Trustees changed the name of the School of Business, and Public Management (SBPM) to School of Business and the Public Administration Department to School of Public Policy and Public Administration.

Author: Peter Hill


  • 1958-1960: No dean for the School of Government
  • 1959-1961: Archibald Mulford Woodruff 

School of Government, Business, and International Affairs 

• 1961-1965: Archibald Mulford Woodruff 

School of Government and Business Administration 

• 1965-1967: H.F. Bright (Acting Dean) 
• 1967-1973: James Carlton Dockeray 
• 1973-1979: Peter Vaill 
• 1979-1989: Norma Maine Loeser 
• 1989-1992: Ben Burdetsky 

School of Business and Public Management 

• 1991-1993: Ben Burdetsky 
• 1993-1998: F. David Fowler 
• 1998- : Susan Phillips