A new endowment at the Brookings Institution—the Adeline M. and Alfred I. Johnson Chair in Urban and Metropolitan Policy—has been established by Brookings Board Chairman James A. Johnson.
Created in honor of Johnson’s parents, the chair will provide a sustained national focus on the future of America’s cities and metropolitan areas, and will serve to anchor the newly established Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy at Brookings.
In announcing the chair, Brookings President Michael H. Armacost said, “We are honored to establish this permanent chair on behalf of Jim Johnson’s parents, both dedicated and concerned public servants who worked tirelessly throughout their careers to improve the public good. We will judiciously use this endowment to augment our work in urban policy and to perpetuate their memory.”
Johnson, chairman and chief executive officer of Fannie Mae, established the chair as a tribute to his late father and mother, both of whom were active in the civic life in their home town of Benson, Minnesota. Alfred Johnson, who died in 1977, was a real estate executive and postmaster in Benson, and was elected in 1953 to the Minnesota House of Representatives, where he served as Speaker during the 1955 and 1957 legislative sessions. He was a key figure in the merger of Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, and for six years was a member of the Board of Regents at the University of Minnesota.
Occupants of this chair will concentrate on a range of issues confronting the nation’s distressed inner city communities, Armacost said. Particular emphasis will be on finding solutions to the intertwined problems of crime, poverty, unemployment, and substandard schools that prevail in many American neighborhoods. In addition, the new position will explore the racial dimensions of urban life, both within cities and between cities and suburbs.
Appointments to the Chair will be named on a rotating annual basis within the Brookings Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy. Candidates will be distinguished urban specialists drawn from the academic, political, foundation, or journalistic communities, and preferably will have practical experience in implementing urban policies.
The newly established Brookings Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy will provide timely, objective, and nonpartisan analyses of issues that affect American cities and their regions, and also will serve as a network of academic experts on urban affairs across the nation.
Headed by Bruce Katz, former chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Center will examine a wide range of urban pressure points. These include the impact of federal and local mandates on cities, the need to improve delivery of education, public safety, and other core services, the problem of growing concentrations of low-income and minority famillies within distressed neighborhoods, and the key relationships between central cities and their larger metropolitan areas.
The Adeline M. and Alfred I. Johnson Chair is the eleventh academic chair or equivalent that has been given to Brookings.