The University of Chicago News Office
November 23, 1998 Press Contact: William Harms
(773) 702-8356

Harris gives University of Chicago $5 million to study human potential and public policy

The University of Chicago has received a $5 million endowment gift from Irving B. Harris to establish the Center for Human Potential and Public Policy.

The center will be a part of the University’s Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies. The center will explore the development of human potential, including intelligence, motivation, skills and moral character. The center will facilitate multidisciplinary research and training in child and family policy, poverty and social inequality, education and training, and related fields.

“The center was conceived with a three-fold mission: to train graduate and postdoctoral students, to conduct research in areas of social policy and programs related to human potential and to interpret research findings so that decision makers are better able to assess policies,” said Robert T. Michael, the Eliakim Hastings Moore Distinguished Service Professor and Dean of the Harris School.

“The Harris School’s strengths in policy analysis related to child and family, welfare and social inequality, education and health will immediately energize the scholarship of this new center,” added Michael, noting that a nationwide search will soon be launched for a center director.

The Center for Human Potential and Public Policy will provide a base for scholarship at the University of Chicago on topics related to human potential.

“I am proud of the work the Harris School has done in improving our understanding of the ways we can help young children grow into healthy and productive adults,” said Irving Harris. “For many years, I have been interested in child development, and I hope this new center can help bridge the gap between public policies affecting children and all of the new knowledge scientists have learned about the human brain and very early childhood development. The future of our society depends on doing this work well, and the Harris School is well positioned to play a leading role.”

Harris, a Chicago business executive, has devoted much of his life to helping advance the search for solutions to major societal problems, particularly related to young children. In 1982, he organized the Ounce of Prevention Fund, a public-private partnership with the State of Illinois that develops and monitors programs aimed at preventing family dysfunction, including child abuse and neglect. He currently serves as that organization’s chairman emeritus. He is also chairman emeritus of the Erikson Institute, which trains teachers in child development. Harris helped found the Erikson Institute in 1966.

The Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago is among the leading public policy research and training programs in the nation, with core concentrations in such policy areas as children and families, health policy, international policy, public management, and poverty and inequality. Established in 1988, the Harris School currently trains nearly 200 master’s and Ph.D. students annually for careers in public service and private sector policy analysis.
Last modified at 03:51 PM CST on Wednesday, June 14, 2000.

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