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Georgetown Receives $100M to Create New Public Policy School

September 18, 2013 – Georgetown will realize a long-held vision to create a premier school of public policy in the nation’s capital, thanks to a gift of $100 million – the largest in its history.

The McCourt School of Public Policy (MSPP), funded through a gift from Frank H. McCourt Jr. (C’75), will be the ninth current school at Georgetown and the first new school at the university since 1957. It will focus on the use of evolving technology to help solve some of the most urgent and complex public policy challenges in the 21st century.

Frank W. McCourt (C "The increasing complexity of public policy issues, the need for more interdisciplinary approaches and the availability of massive data to provide new analytic tools have resulted in an invaluable opportunity for our university,” said Georgetown President John J. DeGioia, right, about the McCourt School of Public Policy (MSPP), funded by Frank H. McCourt Jr. (C'75).

“Throughout the history of our university, we have encountered moments of transformation – when our ability to make an impact is both strengthened and reimagined,” says Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. “This is one of those moments, when we can bring to bear all of the tools and resources we have as a university to contribute, with new depth, to the public good. Frank McCourt has done much more than enable this new school with this transformative gift – he has helped develop the vision of a new approach to public policy over the past eight years. Read President John J. DeGioia’s letter to the Georgetown community

“Together, we recognize that there is a huge opportunity to serve the world in a new way,” he adds, “and we see how Georgetown can make a significant difference with this innovative new approach to public policy research and analysis. The increasing complexity of public policy issues, the need for more interdisciplinary approaches and the availability of massive data to provide new analytic tools have resulted in an invaluable opportunity for our university.”

Transformative Time

DeGioia says he began conversations with Georgetown faculty and senior leaders and McCourt about the growing and changing nature of public policy nearly a decade ago.

Since that time, technological changes such as the data revolution and the speed of communication have rapidly influenced the landscape of public policy. Researchers now have access to large data sets created by the federal, state and local governments in health, employment, the environment and numerous other fields.

Georgetown’s location in Washington, D.C., the university’s legacy of public service and its current faculty’s expertise in complex policy issues such as income inequality, health care, job creation and unemployment laid the foundation for the vision to become a reality, DeGioia says.

Massive Data Institute

"I knew right then and there that this was the effort that my family and I could be passionate partners on, to take this vision and make it a reality for a university that has done so much for my family and for the world."

Frank H. McCourt Jr. (C'75)

The McCourt School of Public Policy will house the Massive Data Institute, which will support research and teaching efforts that link to and integrate the next generation of data in ways that deepen public understanding in a wide range of public policy areas.

The school will include a Massive Data Institute, using “Big Data” sets to increase understanding of society and human behavior and thus improve public policy decision-making.

Government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Geological Service are already using massive data for the common good – to predict flu and other infectious diseases, earthquake activity and tornado damage. The Massive Data Institute will take an innovative approach to shaping public policy by taking the data generated by government programs as part of their processes, analyzing it and using the research to implement future program planning.

Students and Faculty

MSPP will house a McCourt Fellows program, which is designed to attract top students with full scholarships to become the most qualified future policymakers and scholars in the country.

McCourt’s gift is expected to deepen and broaden the core faculty, increasing interdisciplinary appointments and stronger inter-institutional collaboration.

To further engage in dialogue in the Jesuit tradition, the MSPP will include a new Center for Politics and Policy.

“This generous act of philanthropy and our long-term partnership with the McCourt family will strengthen and maintain Georgetown’s 225-year tradition of excellence and commitment to public service,” DeGioia says.

Strong Commitment

McCourt School  The McCourt School of Public Policy will house a McCourt Fellows program, which is designed to attract top students with full scholarships.

President of the McCourt Global, a real estate development firm, Frank McCourt has maintained a strong commitment to Georgetown since he graduated from the College in 1975.

He has served on both the university’s board of directors and board of regents and has several relatives who are Georgetown graduates. Two of Frank McCourt's brothers attended Georgetown – Terence P. McCourt (C’77) and David C. McCourt (C’79) – and their father, Frank H. McCourt Sr., graduated from the university in 1939. One of Frank McCourt Jr.’s four sons, Travis (C’05), is also an alumnus.

It was in 2006 during his service on the university’s board of directors that McCourt first heard DeGioia discuss the exciting potential for Georgetown to disproportionately influence the public policy landscape in a positive way.

Passionate Partners

“I knew right then and there that this was the effort that my family and I could be passionate partners on, to help develop this vision and make it a reality for a university that has done so much for my family and for the world,” McCourt says.

McCourt also endowed ThinkCure, a California nonprofit focused on raising funds to enhance collaborative research in the fight against cancer.

The university will officially launch the McCourt School of Public Policy at an academic ceremony on Oct. 8 and will celebrate the creation of the school with members of Washington’s national and international policy communities, dignitaries and members of Congress on Oct. 9.

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