To understand the allure of the Maxwell School, it is important to appreciate not just its programs and facilities but its culture. Pardon the cliché, but faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the Maxwell School comprise a family. They rally around a sense of mission—the spirit of citizenship and public welfare that informs all the School’s pursuits.
The student body is small. Individual classes are small. Most faculty offices are within the Maxwell complex, as are the many graduate-student office bays. The resulting collegiality and bonds help carry students through their Maxwell careers and long past graduation.
For prospective and incoming students, an introduction to Maxwell’s friendly and supportive culture comes early. From their first contact, students describe a difference in the attention paid to them. “You returned my phone calls.” “You knew who I was when I called.” “I started getting personal e-mail from you as soon as I applied.” As soon as they arrive on campus, students enter an environment characterized by camaraderie, warmth, a lack of pretension—a sense that “we are all part of the same community.”
Many faculty members have offices in one of the School’s interdisciplinary research centers, inviting graduate students to work with them on a wide range of public policy issues. For many students, this experience creates professional relationships that help launch their careers.
Maxwell’s programs and reputation attract outstanding graduate students from around the world; the School’s student body is nearly as diverse as humankind itself. In recent years, more than half of the School’s 900 graduate students have been women. About 30 percent hail from countries other than the United States. Among domestic students, 15 percent are African American or Latino.
Maxwell’s alumni are widely known not only for their professional contributions, but also for their fierce loyalty to the School. They return eagerly and often to campus, taking an active role in sharing their life experiences, offering practical tips, and helping today’s students launch their careers. An informal Maxwell network is likely to exist in any place where public-spirited professionals do their work.
Today, there are nearly 10,000 Maxwell graduates, including almost 5,800 alumni of Maxwell’s professional programs. Some 1,600 of Maxwell’s alums work in Washington, D.C. Another 950 have positions in New York City. Scores of others hold leadership positions in such regions as Africa and East Asia.
They choose many paths. Among those graduating from the social science departments, many, of course, pursue careers in teaching and/or research. Graduates of the professional programs (public administration, international relations, and Executive Education) are policy and budget analysts, personnel officers, finance directors, and city managers. They manage government agencies, nonprofits, private corporations, and their own businesses. They hold political office and serve on college faculties. They work overseas for American companies and agencies, or for the governments and businesses of their native countries. Whatever they do, they make a distinctive contribution to the collective welfare. They are both public-minded citizens and civic-minded professionals.