Advisory Group Expands Reach of U.Va.'s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy

August 01, 2011
August 1, 2011 — More than two dozen leaders in politics, diplomacy, business and public policy have joined a new advisory group established this summer by the University of Virginia's Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

The advisers will provide professional expertise to the school and increase the school's visibility in Washington, D.C., and other cities.

Among the group members is former Virginia governor and U.S. Sen. Charles Robb (D-Va.), now a distinguished professor of law and public policy at George Mason University. Robb earned a degree from the U.Va. School of Law after serving two tours of combat duty as a Marine during the Vietnam War, where he was awarded a Bronze Star.

Another is Dr. Arthur Garson Jr., a U.Va. professor of public health sciences and director of the Center for Health Policy, and former U.Va. executive vice president and provost and former vice president and dean of the U.Va. School of Medicine.

Also serving the group is John O.  Wynne, immediate past rector of  U.Va. and retired president and chief executive officer of Landmark Communications Inc. Wynne earned his law degree at U.Va. (The late Frank Batten Sr., whose gift established the Batten School in 2007, founded Landmark Communications. He graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences in 1950.)

The Batten School allows U.Va. undergraduates to complete both a bachelor's degree and a master's in public policy in five years. The school expects to grow its total enrollment to 80 students this fall, up from 25 three years ago, with the arrival of non-U.Va. graduate students for the two-year master in public policy program.

"We're committed to teaching leadership, and we're committed to making sure our students are grounded in the practice of public policymaking and the development of advocacy skills," said Gerry Warburg, the school's assistant dean for external affairs and professor of public policy. "That makes the advisory group particularly important because we've reached out to a number of leaders throughout the commonwealth and the nation."

Warburg said the advisory group also includes noted business professionals and philanthropic leaders, including three Batten family members. Jane Batten, widow of Frank Batten, is a longtime U.Va. benefactor who worked extensively with her late husband to found the school. Two of their children also are advisers:, Dorothy Batten and Frank Batten Jr., who both hold degrees from U.Va.'s Darden School of Business.

Other U.Va. alumni among the panel include Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, who directs Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell's Washington, D.C., office. She was the first woman elected majority whip in the Virginia House of Delegates, and she also served in the state Senate. Richard Campanelli served in the George W. Bush administration as counselor to the secretary of Health and Human Services and director of the agency's Office for Civil Rights. He is now director of government relations for Health and Human Services at defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. Rilla Hamilton is a foreign affairs specialist at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

Other international experts include Alan Wolff, an attorney and former U.S. deputy special representative for trade negotiations who held the rank of ambassador under President Jimmy Carter; David Gordon, who served former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as director of policy planning; and Leon Fuerth, national security adviser to former Vice President Al Gore.

Bringing expertise from his current work in the U.S. House of Representatives is Kyle Nevins, deputy chief of staff to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

Advisers representing non-profit organizations include Linda Delgado, who directs government affairs for Oxfam America and is a former top aide in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives; and Michael A. Mallory, who earned bachelor's and master's degrees from U.Va.'s Curry School of Education, served as U.Va.'s assistant dean of admission and director of minority recruitment and is currently executive director of the Ron Brown Scholar Program, named for the late U.S. secretary of commerce under President Bill Clinton.

"It's very much a hands-on advisory group," Warburg said. "They're helping us develop relationships and allies for the placement of our students, both as interns in their professional studies and in future jobs."

Batten students serve in internships and other off-Grounds programs that complement their classroom studies. This summer, their assignments have ranged from the Alaska Center for Public Policy to the office of U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) in Washington, to studying rural health clinics and end-of-life care of patients in the rural Mpumalanga province of South Africa through U.Va.'s Center for International Studies.

Advisory board members are "helping us make sure we're cutting-edge in the way we approach advocacy as private sector leaders, in NGOs, and as more familiar public policy servants," Warburg said.

Among the Batten School's goals is strengthening its connections within the Washington area, where nearly half of its graduates work. The region also provides a significant number of students.

This summer, the school co-sponsored three public policy forums in Washington, the last of which drew more than 600 attendees to a major briefing on "Health Insurance Exchange Development: Innovation in the States."

Warburg said the Batten School also intends to further its work with other schools and departments at U.Va., many of which also have a focus on Washington. Some Batten faculty members hold appointments at other U.Va. schools and institutes, such as the Miller Center.

In September, the Batten School and U.Va.'s Center for Politics will co-sponsor a Constitution Day program on or near the date the U.S. Constitution was signed, Sept. 17.

"We at Batten support the University's commitment to be much more broadly engaged in the dialogue on public policy issues in Washington, as well as in the development of relationships that will help the University," Warburg said. "We expect to be doing more and more in Washington in the months ahead."

— By Carl Briggs