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Rosemary O'Leary

Edwin O. Stene Distinguished Professor of Public Administration
Primary office:
Wescoe Hall
Room 4060
University of Kansas

Rosemary O'Leary is the Edwin O. Stene Distinguished Professor of Public Administration at the University of Kansas, following a 24 year career teaching at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Bloomington. O'Leary is the author or editor of eleven books and more than 100 articles and book chapters on public management. She has won eleven national research awards and nine teaching awards. She is the 2014 winner of the Dwight Waldo award, given by the American Society for Public Administration for "persons who have made outstanding contributions to the professional literature of public administration over an extended career." She is the only person to win three National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration awards for Best Dissertation (1989), Excellence in Teaching (1996) and Distinguished Research (2004). An elected member of the National Academy of Public Administration, O’Leary was a senior Fulbright scholar in Malaysia and in the Philippines. In 2014 she was an Ian Axford Public Policy Scholar in New Zealand. From 2003 to 2005 O’Leary was a member of the NASA’s Return to Flight Task Group assembled in response to the Columbia space shuttle accident. She also has served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the International City/County Management Association, the National Science Foundation, and the National Academy of Sciences. Her current research is on collaboration as a management and leadership strategy.


My teaching philosophy is grounded in the belief that my focus should be on students as great learners, rather than on myself as a great teacher. I accomplish this by concentrating on four streams in the classroom: knowledge, critical thinking, creative thinking, and an enthusiasm for public service.

Teaching Interests

  • Public administration
  • Collaboration
  • Organization theory
  • Environmental policy
  • Law


My current research centers on collaboration as a leadership and management strategy. I focus both on the process of facilitating and operating in multi-organizational arrangements to solve problems that cannot be solved or easily solved by single organizations, as well as collaboration with the public.

Research Interests

  • Public Administration
  • Public Management
  • Collaborative Public Management
  • Collaborative Governance
  • Law and Public Policy
  • Administrative and Environmental Law
  • Environmental Policy
  • Environmental Management
  • Conflict Resolution


As a professor of public administration, I believe it is my responsibility to share my knowledge with practitioners and to learn continuously about the challenges they face. I do this by offering training, presentations, coaching, and workshops on collaboration as a leadership and management strategy, as well as training in interest-based collaborative problem solving.

Selected Publications

O'Leary, R., Kim, S., Ashley, S., & Lambright, H. (Eds.). (2014). Toward an "Open Systems" Perspective of Global Public Administration Citizenship. In R. O'Leary, S. Kim, S. Ashley, & H. Lambright (Eds.), Public Administration in the Context of Global Governance (pp. 9-14). Northhampton: Elgar Publishing.

O'Leary, R. (2014). The Ethics of Dissent: Managing Guerrilla Government, Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press. 158.

Frederickson, G. & O'Leary, R. (Eds.). (2014). Local Government Management. The American Review of Public Administration.

O'Leary, R., & Gerard, C. (2014). Collaboration as a Management and Leadership Strategy for Local Governments: Fad or Future? Government Finance Review, 30(4), 30-39.

Frederickson, G., & O'Leary, R. (2014). Local Government Management: Change, Crossing Boundaries, and Reinvigorating Scholarship., 44(4S), 3S-10S.

O'Leary, R. (2014). Managing Across Local Government Boundaries. The American Review of Public Administration, 44(4S), 112S-115S.

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Ranked in the top 10 master of public affairs programs in the nation
—U.S. News & World Report
#1 in the nation for city management and urban policy

— U.S. News & World Report

#5 in the nation for public management

— U.S. News & World Report
Three faculty have won W.T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence
Rosemary O’Leary is KU’s Edwin O. Stene Distinguished Professor of Public Administration
Four MPA graduates have been elected president of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA)
Founder of the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (JPART)
Four faculty are National Academy of Public Administration Fellows
Bob Kipp, vice president of Hallmark Cards, was a 2012 recipient of the CLAS Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award
Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. secretary of health and human services, was a 2009 recipient of the CLAS Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award
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