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Paying it Forward

June 15, 2022

Louise Gartner Birkhead ’52 M.P.A. credits the generosity of a Syracuse University alumnus with helping her focus on her studies while pursuing a graduate degree at the Maxwell School.  

Seventy years later, she has made a gift to help ease the financial burden of current and future students. In the spring of 2022, two M.P.A. students became the first recipients of the $2,500 Louise Gartner Birkhead Scholarship. Both are dual majors; while one is also studying for a master of arts in international relations, the other is additionally working toward a juris doctorate at the University’s College of Law.  

Headshot of Louise Birkhead
Louise Gartner Birkhead ’52 M.P.A.

“I wouldn’t have been able to enroll in the M.P.A. program without the generosity of an alumni scholarship,” says Birkhead. “I wanted to pay it forward. My hope is that young women from diverse backgrounds with fewer resources will be among the beneficiaries of this endowment, allowing them to pursue their love of public service.”  

Birkhead’s gift was inspired not only by her desire to help others, but also a deep sense of gratitude for Maxwell. The education and training she received served her well in a career in public administration, working for the City of Syracuse, elected officials and various municipal organizations.  

Maxwell is also where she met her late husband of 60 years, Guthrie S. Birkhead Jr., who served as dean of Maxwell from 1977-88 after teaching at the school for nearly three decades. The couple had three sons: Guthrie S. Birkhead III, Richard G. Birkhead and Evan C. Birkhead. Their legacy continues: Granddaughter Hanna received an M.P.A. from Maxwell and a master’s degree from the Newhouse School in 2016.  

Learn more about giving options and priorities by visiting or contact Laine Norton at or 315.443.1053. 

Published in the Summer 2022 issue of the Maxwell Perspective

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