Robert F. Rich
Director, Institute of Government and Public Affairs
For IGPA Director Robert Rich, public service is more than just another faculty responsibility, subordinate to research and teaching.
"I think it is very exciting and challenging. I have long been a believer that public service is a noble cause. We need to attract our best and brightest into government, and it is the responsibility of the university to improve the information base, skills, and performance of those in government," he said.
Professor Rich has joint appointments with the Institute of Government and Public Affairs, where he was director from 1986 to 1997 before taking that role for a second time in 2005, the College of Medicine, the Political Science Department, and the College of Law.
He is the founder and former director of the Office of Public Leadership at IGPA, which offers educational programs to elected and non-elected local government officials. In addition, he serves as the coordinator for the local and state government strategic initiative of the Partnership Illinois Program.
Professor Rich has recently received several honors. He has been named a faculty fellow in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Public Engagement and Institutional Relations for the 2003-04, 04-05, and 05-06 academic years. The Office of Public Engagement and Institutional Relations' faculty, staff, and students collaborate with communities, agencies, organizations, business and government to address critical societal issues and to share the University's intellectual and cultural assets.
Professor Rich has also been named a permanent fellow in the European Center for the Comparative Government and Public Policy. This center is funded by the Humboldt University, the Technical University, and the Free University of Berlin.
In addition to his appointed positions, he has been elected as the vice president of the board of the Warren and Clara Cole Foundation, a healthcare research foundation in Chicago.
Professor Rich's research focuses on health law and policy, federalism and the role of the states, environmental policy, and science policy. He has published five books. He has also served as a consultant for a wide variety of federal and state government agencies.
He said he sees IGPA as being unique among tenure-granting institutions because it does not grant degrees but instead focuses on research and public service.
"That allows equal weight to be placed on research and public service," he said.
Professor Rich received his bachelor of arts with high honors) from Oberlin College and his master's and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Before joining the faculty of the University of Illinois in 1986, he served on the faculties of the University of Michigan, Princeton University, and Carnegie-Mellon University.