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Robert J. Buchanan establishes and endows the Chester A. Newland doctoral fellowship

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Written by H. George Frederickson, Distinguished Professor Emeritus

In early May 2014, Marilu Goodyear, Director of the School of Public Affairs and Administration of the University of Kansas, received a telephone call from the University of Kansas Endowment. Did she know who Robert J. Buchanan was, Marilu was asked. No, she answered. Did she know that Mr. Buchanan had died? No, she again answered. Did she know that funds had been set aside in Mr. Buchanan’s last will and testament to establish a doctoral fellowship in public administration at the University of Kansas in honor of Chester A. Newland? No, she answered, but quickly added that she certainly knew who Chester A. Newland is; everyone in public administration knows who Chester A. Newland is.

It was then agreed that the relevant pages of the Buchanan last will and testament would be faxed to the School of Public Affairs and Administration to the attention of Marilu Goodyear. Later that day it arrived.

There it was, on the first page. “I, Robert J. Buchanan, a resident of Brazos County, Texas, being of sound mind and disposing memory, realizing the uncertainty of this life, do make, publish and declare this to be my Last Will and Testament.” With no warning Robert J. Buchanan, age 64, died in his sleep on December 7, 2013, in Columbus, Ohio, where he was a Professor at Ohio State University. Following his instructions, the First National Bank of Bryan, Texas, began executing his Last Will and Testament in the spring of 2014.

Robert J. BuchananParagraph 5 of Professor Buchanan’s Will which explains the reason for telling the story here, reads as follows:  “An amount of property equal in value to ten percent (10%) of my residuary estate shall be distributed to The University of Kansas Endowment Association of the University of Kansas, located in Lawrence, Kansas... the gift shall be entered in the books and records as the CHESTER A. NEWLAND MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP ENDOWMENT FUND and shall always be so designated. Distributions from the Fund shall be used to establish an endowment for students who are enrolled in the. … Public Administration Program of the University of Kansas seeking a doctor of philosophy degree. A scholarship to any one student shall be limited to four (4) years of doctoral work...”

The Buchanan bequest to KU is substantial. Investment interest on the Newland Fund should be sufficient to cover the annual costs of tuition and living expenses for a doctoral student.

Upon reading the pertinent parts of the Buchanan last will and testament, Marilu Goodyear asked me if I knew who Robert J. Buchanan was and why he might be endowing a Newland Fellowship. I did not know. She then asked me to look into it and to write the announcement of the Fellowship.

Who was Robert J. Buchanan and why did he establish and generously endow the Chester A. Newland Memorial Scholarship Fund of the University of Kansas Endowment?

Robert J. Buchanan preferred to be called Bob. He graduated from Grinnell College with honors in political science in 1971. Bob was then admitted to the Graduate School of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, completing a Master of Arts in Public Administration in 1976 and a Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science with a specialization in public administration in 1980. Through the good offices of Professor Frederick C. (Fritz) Mosher, in 1975, Bob was put in touch with Professor Mosher’s friend Chester A. (Chet) Newland, then the Director of the Federal Executive Institute in Charlottesville. Bob took a part-time position at the Institute, working as an administrative intern with Chet Newland while he continued his graduate study at the University of Virginia. This was the beginning of a professional friendship of 38 years, one that explains the Newland Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund and the reason for telling this story.

When Bob and Chet first met in 1975, Chet, 20 years Bob’s senior, was already well-established in public administration. It was not long before Chet returned to his teaching position at the Washington Center of the University of Southern California that Bob took a teaching position, which Chet helped him get, as an instructor in public administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. After two years and the completion of his dissertation, Bob moved to San Bernardino State University where he taught public finance and budgeting. Two years later, in 1981, Bob moved to the University of Mississippi where he specialized in long-term health care finance and Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement policies. Increasing in academic rank and national standing in public health finance and later in the health care of those with multiple sclerosis, Bob moved in succession to Cornell (1986-1990), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1990-1997), the University of South Carolina (1997-1999), Texas A&M University (1999-2003), the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (2003-2005), Mississippi State University (2005-2013), and The Ohio State University (2013). Bob died on December 7, 2013, after only four months in his new position as a professor of health policy at the John Glenn School of Public Affairs of The Ohio State University.

Over the course of his remarkable career, Bob Buchanan wrote and published four books on health care policy and finance and on the care of those with chronic physical disabilities. He published an astonishing 130 peer-reviewed articles, many of them in leading journals. And he was a grant writing whirlwind, funding most of his own research and the research of many others through grants, primarily from the National Institutes of Health, the Veterans Administration, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS).

What might explain Bob’s “institutional restlessness”?  He seemed to change universities rather regularly. Chet explains it this way: “Bob was deeply devoted to his research.... He relied heavily on externally funded support. He too often found that the university where he was located did not understand or have mechanisms to support funded and/or collaborative research. Thus he often looked for greener pastures for timely funded research.”

It is to be noted here that Bob Buchanan made his will while he was at Texas A&M University in College Station and Bryan, Texas, sometime between 1999 and 2003, filing that will in Brazos County. Bob made it known to Chet that he wished to create a bequest in his name. In Chet’s words, they “agreed that KU was an institution of highest distinction in key fields of my work and that it (KU) did not require immediate financial help but longer term recognition.”  It is, of course, important to note that Chet did all of his graduate study in his home state at the University of Kansas.

Chester AlbertChester A. Newland Newland is a son of Kansas. He was born 18 June 1930 in Kansas City, Kansas, at the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas rivers – along the Missouri border. Kansas City, Kansas was a tough town of railroads, river bottoms, oil and gas refining and shipping, stock yards, manufacturing, immigrants, political corruption, crime and danger. It was a mostly working class town, but its public schools, K-12, were under state standards that were vastly superior to those in Missouri. Also, Missouri largely clung to its slave-state roots during Chet Newland’s childhood, whereas even Eastern Kansas was largely a Jayhawk-free state. His great grandmother filled him with stories of the Underground Railroad, used by her family to help slaves escape their “evil, tobacco-smoking, liquor-drinking, gambling Missouri masters.”

In short, Kansas City had been a center of the abolitionist effort to prevent the westward movement of slavery and establish Kansas as a free territory and later a free state. It had been an important terminus on the underground railroad of slaves escaping and moving northward, crossing the river from Missouri at Quindaro Point and Bonner Springs into Kansas, becoming part of the African American community in Kansas City. As a child, Newland first learned to play classical violin from the lead Philharmonic Chair in Missouri, courtesy of the New Deal’s Work Projects Administration.  Additionally, he learned jazz from a black fiddler in the Jayhawk state, who also helped to confirm him in support of civil rights and a search for human dignity. That influence continued from earlier times when blacks were estimated at 35 percent of the city, then moving farther west and north as eastern Europeans crowded into Kansas City, Kansas – an important gathering point for Croatian, Slovenian, Yugoslav, Serbian and Russian immigrants, most of whom settled in the Strawberry Hill neighborhood. And, Kansas City was and continues to be a major gathering point for Latinos and Hispanics, mostly living in the Argentine neighborhood.

Chester Albert Newland was called Bert at home and at school. Bert began first grade in a one-room school for grades one through eight in Eldorado Springs, Missouri, where his parents had moved under Great Depression pressures in Kansas City. By first grade, his older brother, sister and parents had already taught him to read and write and do some math. After the family returned to Kansas City in the midst of the Depression, he briefly attended KCK’s Wellborn and Chelsea elementary schools before finishing fourth through eighth grades at top-rated Roosevelt Grade School.

His father, with a fifth-grade education, had been highly successful in the ice business before the Great Depression but refrigeration ended that. After struggling in Eldorado Springs as a tenant farmer, he returned to Kansas City as a laborer. Initially, ranks in the White Hod Carriers Union were closed, but the Negro Union admitted him for $10, to be paid off with 50 cents of every working week. Within some years, since he was a mathematical whiz, he became a widely known sewer and water construction foreman and superintendent throughout the Kansas City metropolis.

But times remained tough into the 1940s. Bert’s mother operated an embroidery machine, and Bert helped as a child to boost piece-rate income. With the beginning of World War II there were more jobs.

In 1944, Bert began the ninth grade at Wyandotte High School, graduating in 1948. At the time, as noted earlier, primary and secondary public education in Kansas was particularly good, including the schools in Kansas City, Kansas. Wyandotte High provided Bert with classes in Latin, Greek, German, advanced calculus and sciences, and humanities and arts, most particularly orchestra and musical performance. In the summers and after school Bert painted houses and did other work across the river in the better neighborhoods of Kansas City, Missouri.

Circumstances and experiences shape one’s values, preferences, and beliefs, and there is little doubt that Bert was strongly influenced by his hardscrabble youth and exceptional public-education opportunities. He knew a full palette of skin shades, languages, and accents, and he both experienced and witnessed the differences between the poor and everyone else. As the circumstances and experiences of one’s youth form the mold into which the rest of one’s life is poured, forever shaping one’s opinions, beliefs, and values, surely the first 18 years of Bert’s life, the Kansas City years, account, at least in part, for his passionate concern for fairness and justice, for poverty, his dedication to education, and his passion for good government.

Although his high school grades were all As, Bert failed to get a scholarship that would have enabled him to study at the University of Kansas in nearby Lawrence. It was 1948, only three years after the end of World War II, and all young men were still required to serve in the military, the only question was when and for how long. Bert’s economic circumstances made the decision for him, and he joined the United States Air Force for a three-year enlistment that was extended to four due to war. When he completed his tour of duty, he learned that he was entitled to the higher education benefits of the G.I. Bill of Rights.

The first thing that happened in his military career was an abrupt and permanent change of names. Chester Albert Newland became Airman Chester A. Newland, Chester shortened to Chet by his friends. Bert was left back in Kansas City. Chet was an instructor-trainer in the Air Force, a kind of hands-on teacher and researcher. While in the Air Force he took advantage of correspondence courses and night classes to build credits toward a college degree. Finding himself in Texas upon completion of his military obligation, Chet moved to Denton, enrolled at North Texas State College, now the University of North Texas, majored in government, and finished in two years.

With an excellent record from North Texas, Chet went home, enrolling in the graduate program in political science at the University of Kansas. Taking a particular interest in public law, Chet studied with the influential Francis Heller, a leading public law scholar and one of the ghost assistants writing President Harry Truman’s memoirs. Chet lived on $110.00 a month from the GI Bill and on income from research, writing, and conference organization and management in the KU Institute of Government. His master’s thesis was on developments following the important 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision by the Supreme Court. Among those developments, Chet continued his family heritage as a civil rights activist. Following completion of his doctoral dissertation on U.S. Supreme Court Reliance on Legal Periodicals at KU in 1958, he became supported by the prestigious Social Science Research Council, which enabled him to spend a summer at the University of Wisconsin Law School and a year at the Supreme Court doing further research on court reliance on legal periodicals, reliance on law clerks, press coverage of the Court, and its schedules, on all of which he later published, resulting in a major change of the Court’s schedules. With his 1958 Ph.D. in hand, in 1959-60, Chet taught for a year at Idaho State College (now University) in Pocatello. There, in the absence of health insurance in those days, he received free treatment by a nearby Atomic Energy Commission research center, eliminating a cancer. He then returned to North Texas State as an assistant professor of government. With the decision to return to North Texas, we glimpse the primary pattern in his life and career—Chet Newland may go to another place for a time, but he somehow never really leaves the place from whence he came. He left Kansas and then returned. He left North Texas State and then returned. Chet does not wear out his welcome; he enhances it.

While at North Texas, Chet established, with others, an MPA program with a city management emphasis, a program now in its 50th year. He was particularly engaged in the causes of good government and civil rights while at North Texas, serving as an elected member of the Denton city council and as Mayor Pro Tem. The John Birch Society despised both his public and academic efforts, giving the University criticism. When Chet left North Texas after six years he was a professor and the Director of the Government Department. He was only 36 years old. But he didn’t really leave. In later years, he would endow the annual University of North Texas Chet Newland Colloquium, and he still attends the Colloquium in most years.

In 1966, Chet was invited by the University of Southern California’s Dean Henry Reining to serve a one-year faculty term. Early after going to Los Angeles, he was offered a faculty position for the next year at the University of Houston, with opportunities also at the Manned Spacecraft Center. While there, USC’s Professor Frank P. Sherwood flew to Houston to ask him to return to L.A.

Very shortly after returning to a position at USC, Chet was called by President Johnson, who invited him to the ranch to discuss serving as the initial Director of the LBJ Presidential Library. Chet asked USC for a leave of absence so that he might take that two-year assignment. John Macy, then chair of the U.S. Civil Service Commission; Bert Rhodes, the Archivist of the United States; Senator John Tower, and Isabelle Hunt were all familiar with Chet’s work at North Texas and were all connected to LBJ. While Chet was in the Air Force, John Tower, later to be United States Senator, and Isabelle Hunt had taught courses in the evening for Midwestern University in Wichita Falls, Texas. They had taught in the same classroom at Sheppard Air Force Base that Chet had used during the day to teach in the Air Force Instructor Training School. Chet took two of Professor Hunt’s courses and also assisted Professor Tower on the base at times. Isabelle Hunt was a Franklin Delano Roosevelt “New Dealer” and a Harry S. Truman “Fair Dealer,” and she was closely connected to Lyndon Baines Johnson. She became one of Chet’s mentors. “Isabelle was among many who taught me not to be an ideologue but to search for human dignity and reasonableness, always exercising forgiveness for even the inexcusable.”

At the time it was thought that initial presidential library directors, with duties to pull together an institution with strict standards, should be professionals rather than be appointed primarily for political purposes and should have short, two-year terms. Chet fit that bill. As noted above, he got a call from LBJ and was appointed by the U.S. Civil Service Commission as a non-partisan GS-17 Executive Civil Servant. Almost all of LBJ’s papers were placed under the authority of the director, far beyond the practices of earlier and subsequent presidents. During the first year he worked mostly in Washington and the second year mostly in Austin at the library site on the campus of the University of Texas.

In 1970, Chet returned to USC in Los Angeles. However, within a year, he was invited by USC’s former Professor and Dean, Frank P. Sherwood, to move to the Federal Executive Institute (FEI) in Charlottesville, VA. The FEI was predominantly an USC project during its creation, and Chet moved there in 1971with the University’s blessing, but without requesting continuation of its tenure. FEI is the top level executive training operation of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Chet became the GS-18 Director two years later, in 1973, subject to the Institute’s five-year maximum service limitation. While at FEI, Chet was elected in 1975 as a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA).

During his FEI service, Chet was in regular contact with Frederick C. Mosher (Fritz), a professor of government at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and the nation’s leading authority on public personnel administration. Robert J. Buchanan (Bob) was a doctoral student under Fritz’ direction in the Department of Government of the University of Virginia. Fritz told Chet about Bob, indicating that he was a very good doctoral student who was in need of part-time work. Chet hired Bob, who by all accounts did excellent work at FEI. After Bob finished his Ph.D. and took a teaching appointment at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, he stayed in touch with Chet for professional guidance, letters of reference, and the like. Chet describes it as “something like a mix of uncle/nephew and teacher/student relationship.”  Over the next 38 years Chet and Bob stayed in regular communication as they both made several professional advancements and many changes of location.

Chet moved to Washington D.C. in 1976, taking a full-time professorship at the USC Washington Public Affairs Center, which had been created by Frank Sherwood in 1973. Taking leave from USC once again, Chet returned to FEI as the Director for a term not to exceed two years (1980-82) at the request of the Office of Personnel Management, another example of the Newland pattern of never really leaving. He subsequently served two academic years at George Mason University, assisting in development of its Ph.D. and MPA programs. In 1984, Chet returned to USC as a professor at the University’s State Capital Center that had been established in Sacramento in 1971. There, in addition to USC duties, he served six year as the Editor in Chief of the Public Administration Review. He received the Frances R. and John J. Duggan Distinguished Professorship in Public Administration in 1998, a position he held until his retirement December 31, 2011.

It may seem that Chet settled down in Sacramento in the mid-1980s. Not so. For many of the 25 plus years before his retirement, Chet regularly taught on the USC Los Angeles campus and at the USC Washington Center as well as at the USC State Capitol Center in Sacramento. When he retired at age 81, after 52 years of outstanding teaching, research and service, Chet was given the rank of Emeritus Distinguished Professor of the University of Southern California.

Chet served as the National President of the American Society for Public Administration in 1980-81. He has been an Honorary Life Member of the International City-County Management Association since 1980. He served on the NAPA Board of Directors in 1979-1982. Chet is the recipient of many of the leading awards in public administration, including the Dwight Waldo Award, the George Graham Award, the Van Riper Award, the Earl Warren Award, the Marshall Dimock Award, the Elmer Staats Award, and the Stockberger Civil Service Award.

In addition to work in the United States, Chet has engaged extensively in international responsibilities in Greece, Hungary, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Mexico, Moldova, Poland, Russia, Taiwan, and South Korea.

Once again, in his own unique way, Chet has managed to come back home to Kansas. To claim that everyone associated with the KU School of Public Affairs and Administration is pleased at this new fellowship is an understatement. We are thrilled and honored that Bob Buchanan in his last will and testament established the Memorial Chester A. Newland Fellowship. Given twenty years difference in their ages, reason suggests that Bob would outlive Chet and that “memorial” would be the right word. Here at the University of Kansas we are very pleased that the word “memorial” is not yet suitable.


Ruth DeWitt, Communications Manager
KU School of Public Affairs and Administration
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