Date: April 10, 2020
From: President Andrew Hamilton and Provost Katherine Fleming

We are very pleased to announce the appointment of Jack H. Knott — a political scientist who is currently the Irwin C. and Ione L. Piper Chair and dean of the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California — as the Gale and Ira Drukier dean of the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. He will start as Steinhardt's dean on August 1, 2020.

The first school of pedagogy in the US, the Steinhardt School's academic programs have evolved to cover a great span of human endeavor and scholarly interests, which makes the search for a dean unusually wide-ranging in scope. The Search Committee sought a person who could advance Steinhardt's social impact, its research enterprise, its success in teaching innovation, and its interdisciplinary programs. The new dean would have to have excellent scholarly credentials, a proven track record as an academic leader and fund-raiser, a commitment to diversity and inclusion, and an intuitive grasp of Steinhardt's special mission and the ability to articulate it compellingly.

In a very strong field of candidates, Jack truly stood out. A highly accomplished leader with years of experience and success in leading a complex, interdisciplinary school in a large, private, urban-based university, Jack made a strong positive impression on the Search Committee not only by dint of his credentials, but also because of his unassuming personal style. Throughout his time as a leader, he has demonstrated a commitment to advancing equity and inclusion, a consideration of the strengths and needs of the whole community, an appreciation for the scholarly work of his faculty colleagues, and an ability to raise resources from a diversity of sources. It was clear to the Committee that he had a genuine understanding of and appreciation for the core values, diversity, and breadth and depth of NYU Steinhardt, and for its substantial contributions to the university and our local and global communities.

We could not be happier about having him join us in the Steinhardt and the NYU community.

Jack has been at USC and dean of its Sol Price School of Public Policy since 2005. Under his leadership, the school grew substantially in resources, academic reputation, and number and quality of students. Jack hired transformational faculty, including two provost professors and one university distinguished professor, and increased the number of faculty elected to prestigious national academies. He has advanced the school’s endowment significantly, including the major naming gift for the school, along with new endowed centers, endowed chairs, support for students, and the school’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. The school also rose in academic reputation across major program areas, according to U.S. News and World Report rankings. He also worked with faculty and staff to more than triple the number and total value of grants and contracts. In addition, under his leadership, the school reconstituted its undergraduate program, establishing three new majors, increasing the size and quality of undergraduate enrollment.

Similar to NYU Steinhardt, the USC Price School is an interdisciplinary school with a strong global presence. Jack has fostered valuable collaborations with other schools at USC, including engineering, medicine, pharmacy, education, social work, and business. Working with faculty, he has also supported collaboration with the arts and communication schools through digital summits, cross-school specializations, and an initiative on the arts, race, and social policy. Internationally, he has led in establishing international practicum experiences for students, international executive education, study abroad programs, dual masters degrees with universities abroad, and research collaborations.

Prior to serving as dean at USC, Jack was a professor of political science and head of two major research institutes, first as the director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University and then as the director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He also was a visiting professor of management at the Institute for Governance and Public Management at the University of Warwick and briefly served as the interim executive director of the Michigan Higher Education Institute. Prior to his posts at Michigan State, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Russell Sage Foundation and a full-time lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley.

His area of scholarly interest — which emerged from a summer spent in Poland and the Soviet Union sponsored by the Experiment in International Living — focuses on the interrelationship between governance and policy making, both in the United States and in other countries. In particular, he works on understanding the influence on policy choices of particular governing institutional structures, including the separation of powers, federalism, and the role of private foundations in public problem solving, with a focus on economic and regulatory policy and health policy. He is the author of many books and articles, including “The President, Congress, and the Financial Crisis: Ideology and Moral Hazard in Economic Governance,” Presidential Studies Quarterly (Spring, 2012); “When Ambition Checks Ambition: Bureaucratic Trustees and the Separation of Powers,” American Review of Public Administration (Fall, 2008), with Gary Miller; “State Governance Structures and the Performance of Public Universities,” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management (Fall, 2003), with Abigail Payne; and “Who Controls the Bureaucracy? Presidential Power, Congressional Dominance, Legal Constraints, and Bureaucratic Autonomy in a Model of Multi-Institutional Policy Making,” Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization (Spring, 1996), with Thomas Hammond. He is also the recipient of many awards and recognitions, including being elected as a member of the National Academy of Public Administration and having served as president of the international Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA).

Jack, who is from Grand Rapids, MI, and was the first in his family to go to college, received his BA in history from Calvin College, his MA in international studies from Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies, and PhD in political science from the University of California, Berkeley.

The recruitment of such a distinguished new dean would not have been possible without the hard work and exceptional discernment of the Search Committee and especially its chair, Elise Cappella. They took on this task on top of their many existing duties. We are grateful to the Search Committee for its excellent work.

We also wish to recognize the outstanding work of Pamela Morris, who has been the interim dean of Steinhardt since September 2019. Her strong leadership during a time of unprecedented challenge has been authentic and compassionate and will be conspicuous for her successful efforts to build communication and collaboration, extend and buttress community partnerships, prioritize faculty development and diversity, and promote transparency at every level. She used her understanding of NYU Steinhardt to harness the collective strength of the community to grow its academic mission and scholarship while, at the same time, responding with clarity and humanity to the complex realities around us. We are certain that you join us in thanking Pamela for her dedicated leadership.

We ask you to join us in recognizing the fine work of the Search Committee and its chair, Elise Cappella; in thanking Pamela Morris for her exemplary leadership as interim dean; and in welcoming Jack Knott to his new home — NYU Steinhardt.