Professor Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, has been awarded the McKnight Presidential Chair in Public Affairs by University President Eric Kaler. The award is one of the University’s highest faculty honors, presented in recognition of scholarly achievements and in anticipation of future contributions to advance the University’s prominence.
Jacobs’ center is considered the preeminent hub for political and policy analysis in the Midwest. As director, he hosts and moderates numerous public events each year on topics ranging from politics to election integrity, and from health care policy to an aging American workforce.
The endowed McKnight Presidential Chair, which comes with a financial award, will support the launch of a new event series, the Mondale Dialogues: America at a Crossroads.
“We are entering a transformative moment in America as the definition of what it means to be American is recreated by new generations at home and abroad,” says Jacobs. “We will use this new series to convene timely and candid conversations with citizens and experts and to stir dialogue across our divides.”
Inspiration for the series came from former Vice President Walter Mondale, a Minnesota native who has taught courses on the U.S. Constitution and national security with Jacobs for nearly 15 years. Mondale’s advice to Jacobs was to “go talk to people” around Minnesota.
Humphrey School Dean Laura Bloomberg says the Mondale Dialogues will spur conversations on critical issues at a time they’re needed most. “Americans are experiencing rising economic inequality and barriers to opportunities and social mobility. The importance of access to such things as high-quality education and affordable health care has never been more fiercely debated.”
Jacobs has taught at the University of Minnesota since 1988 and has authored or edited 16 books and more than 100 articles on elections, legislative and presidential politics, elections and public opinion, and a range of public policies. The University presented him with the McKnight Presidential Chair at a time when he was also being heavily recruited by Oxford University to become the Orsborn Professor and first permanent director of its Rothermere American Institute.
“One of the blessings of the Humphrey School is that it has allowed me to leverage my research into conversations with Minnesotans, organizations, and businesses, which in turn have shaped the kinds of questions that I research,” Jacobs says. “I’m grateful to continue this work at the University of Minnesota.”
Jacobs has received grants to support his research from the McKnight Foundation, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts, National Science Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Phillips Foundation, and others. He earned a BA in history and English from Oberlin College and a PhD in political science from Columbia University.
The Mondale Dialogues are expected to launch this fall.