President George W. Bush appointed more alumni from GW graduate schools than from almost any other university, according to National Journal statistics released last month.
Nine Bush appointees are from GW graduate schools, tying GW with Georgetown University and ranking second to Harvard University, which produced 40 appointees.
Four members of Bush’s staff were GW undergraduate students. With 12 undergraduate alumni, Yale University has the highest number among the group of 300 top appointees surveyed by National Journal.
Leading the list of GW graduates is Secretary of State Colin Powell, who earned his master’s of business administration from the School of Business and Public Management in 1973.
Alongside Powell, Bush also appointed Grant S. Green Jr., a 1979 master’s of public administration degree recipient, to the State Department.
Green is the undersecretary for management in the State Department and said he is not surprised by the presence of GW alumni in the new White House.
“It’s probable that there are a significant number of (GW graduates) who have continued careers in the Washington area,” he said.
Three of Bush’s cabinet members hold degrees from GW’s law school.
“We do have a long history of probably sending more of our graduates into public service than any other law school in the country,” said GW Law School Dean Michael Young. “They’re part of a very long history of people who have done great service for the country.”
Ann L. Combs, who was appointed assistant secretary for pension and welfare benefits for the Department of Labor, graduated GW law school in 1981. National Labor Relations Board member Wilma B. Liebman earned a law degree in 1974. James Ziglar, the designated commissioner of the Department of Justice’s Immigration and Naturalization Services, graduated with a degree in political science in 1968 before earning his law school degree in 1972.
“If you look at our employment statistics year after year,” Young said, “in many ways, the fact that they’re going in it at the highest levels (of government) is really just a continuation of a commitment to public service that our graduates seem to have.”
Young said he has followed the careers of some of the appointees.
“They are extraordinary attorneys and it’s an honor to the law school,” he said. “They bring great credit to us and we are absolutely delighted that they’re doing it.”
Michael Worth, non-profit management professor and former vice president for Development and Alumni Affairs, said GW’s location blocks away from the White House affects the amount of politically minded students who attend the University, but not the actual selection process for cabinet members.
“The Bush administration didn’t pick people because they went to school nearby,” Worth said. “It has to do with the kind of students attracted to GW.”
According to the National Journal, 54 percent of Bush’s personnel worked in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area last year. The State Department has the highest amount of members with D.C. work experience.
About 12 percent of appointees grew up in Bush’s home state of Texas, followed by 10 percent from New York.
Worth said high numbers of GW alumni historically join administrations of both parties.
“Throughout our history, GW alumni have been leaders in government,” he said. “This new administration is no exception.”
Green said GW’s flexibility with its continuing education programs contributed to his career success.
“They offer a quality education that is convenient for people who have other urging responsibilities,” he said. “(They allow you to) structure a degree program that fits with other responsibilities.”
The prominence of GW graduates reflects well on the University, Gosbee said.
“We are proud to call these distinguished appointees members of the GW family,” he said.