Celebrating the Amazing Career of Rosemary O'Leary

KU School of Public Affairs and Administration

Wow! What a career!

In every respect Rosemary O’Leary hit it out of the park. It is hard to believe that our energetic, accomplished colleague has decided to retire after 10 years as the Edwin O. Stene Distinguished Professor at KU. 

A Distinguished Alumni Award winner of both the KU College of Arts and Sciences and the KU School of Law, Rosemary brought honor to the KU School of Public Affairs and Administration by winning nearly every research award in the field of public administration including five lifetime achievement awards and four best book awards. 

Rosemary loves teaching and was rewarded with an amazing eleven teaching awards – two of them national. Her students at KU, Syracuse, and Indiana remember her pacing around the classroom, pounding on desks, urging them to “buck up buckeroos!” always with a smile and an impish laugh. Her international posts as a visiting scholar allowed students from Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, New Zealand, and India to benefit from her scholarship and practical experience as well. She was the co-creator of E-PARCC at Syracuse University, a collection of free, online teaching materials on civic engagement, collaboration and conflict resolution, still used today by hundreds of thousands of students and trainers around the world. 

An enthusiastic proponent of public service, Rosemary served on the NASA Return-to-Flight Task Group after the Columbia space shuttle accident and was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Award for her efforts. She was president of the US-based Public Management Research Association. The Europe-based International Research Society for Public Management established the annual “Rosemary O’Leary Prize for Outstanding Scholarship on Women in Public Administration." At age 64 Rosemary became a Peace Corps Response Volunteer returning to the Philippines to teach research methods to Filipino faculty and students on remote campuses. She was nominated for the Lillian Carter Award for outstanding Peace Corps volunteer over the age of 50 for her efforts.

Rosemary says, "Working with students was hands down the most fun and rewarding part of my career. As I leave KU, my hope is to leave a legacy that supports them." Please join us in honoring Rosemary by contributing to the Rosemary O’Leary Family Scholarship for MPA and PhD students at the School of Public Affairs and Administration.