When former U.S. Sen. John Glenn passed away in December, the country mourned a NASA pioneer, statesman and role model. Ohio State mourned the namesake of its public affairs college that is filled to this day with donated archives and memorabilia of the first American to orbit Earth.
The John Glenn College of Public Affairs stands opposite Thompson Library on the Oval, and many students pass it every day. But those most familiar with its legacy are its students and faculty.
The college ranks No. 1 in Ohio and No. 25 in the world for its public-affairs programs, according to US News and World Report’s 2018 rankings. It ranks No. 19 in the world, according to ShanghaiRanking, an organization that researches higher education.
Academically, it offers public management, leadership, policy and public-policy analysis programs for more than 300 students pursuing degrees in those fields.
The college has roots dating back to the late 1960s, when Ohio State faculty formed the Division of Public Administration within the College of Administrative Science. Since then, it has evolved from a School of Public Administration to School of Public Policy to today’s college, which was created in 2015.
Trevor Brown, the dean of the college, said Glenn was a pivotal part of the college, holding the title of distinguished adjunct professor.
“He was active in the school, he was teaching classes, he’d wander around the building, talk to students,” Hank Wilson, director of communications for the college, said.
The civic involvement and engagement Glenn demonstrated throughout his life is a value the college seeks to instill in its students, Brown said.
“We’re trying to create the next generation of public servants, the next John Glenns,” he said.
To achieve this task, the college hosts a multitude of events and dialogues for its students and faculty to attend, to help them grasp the concept of respectful discussion on public-affairs topics, said Emily Saleme, president of the John Glenn Civic Leadership Council and a fourth-year in public policy analysis and criminology.
“Really what drives all of that is the message of John Glenn,” she said. “We as students understand that we are living out his legacy and his devotion to service.”
Brown said the college works to help students use their degree to make a difference in the areas they specialize in.
“Everybody comes here with something they’re passionate about,” Brown said. “We help them turn that into a richer understanding of the problem and generate knowledge for action.”