Founded in 2000 under the leadership of Dr. Richard Harris, Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs (WRI) was organized to honor Senator Walter Rand’s legacy of public service to southern New Jersey and to his home town of Camden. Launched with a legislative appropriation from the State of New Jersey and matching funds from Rutgers University, WRI serves as a research hub and public service center for Rutgers-Camden, the southern campus of the state’s land grant university.
The unflagging support of Provost Roger Dennis and Dean Margaret Marsh was instrumental in assuring the success of WRI as a resource for the campus and for the community. Through their efforts, the Institute has been established with a strong, ongoing commitment of resources and is tied closely to the Department of Public Policy and Administration and departments across campus. The Institute also benefits from the support of its external Advisory Board which provides invaluable strategic guidance and organizes an annual event to honor three South Jerseyans of the Year and to raise scholarship support for students working on Rand Institute projects.
Providing high quality-research and evaluation as well as a venue for public, private and nonprofit leaders to engage constructively on challenging issues, WRI has tackled an array of policy problems including population health, social service delivery, local government capacity, release and re-entry of violent offenders, juvenile delinquency prevention, civic engagement, housing affordability, and regional development. All of these projects have connected scores of Rutgers students with exciting opportunities to enhance their education with invaluable experience in the real world of public affairs.
Since its inception, the Walter Rand Institute has pursued its mission of engaging Rutgers-Camden faculty and students with public administrators, elected officials, non-profit organizations, and community leaders to address the real world challenges that shape the lives of citizens in southern New Jersey and beyond. It is this record of achievement that led the University to designate WRI as the research center for its Public Affairs PhD program focused on community development. With the addition of doctoral fellows, the Walter Rand Institute is building an even stronger record of research and public service.