As the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center marks its 40th anniversary, it is simultaneously celebrating the continued generosity of the Levitt family in support of the center’s public service-focused endeavors.
The Winston Foundation and the Levitt family have committed to a significant gift to establish the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center Fund, which will provide students with enhanced immersive public policy experiences, direct access to policy innovators, additional summer research fellowships, new public service internships, and an annual post-graduate fellowship.
“For over 40 years, the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center has provided Hamilton students invaluable opportunities to understand and address pressing social issues, while preparing many for public interest careers,” said President David Wippman. “This most recent gift will help ensure the center’s capacity to prepare Hamilton students for the public affairs challenges of the future.”
The center continues to grow in its role as a hub on campus from which students examine persistent public policy issues and develop practical skills that lead to innovative and positive social change.
Since its launch in 1980-81, nearly 2,000 students have participated in summer research, leadership training, community-based learning projects, and public service internships. In addition, the Levitt Center brings to campus prominent guest speakers and supports faculty in their interdisciplinary work that engages with contemporary issues, problems, or challenges, and makes connections between theory and practice.
As it prepares to enter its fifth decade, plans are underway to expand the Levitt Center’s Law and Justice Lab, provide residencies for local and state policymakers, establish a Human Rights Clinic in partnership with the Upstate Institute at Colgate University, and extend classroom learning by creating intensive, two-week public policy field studies.
“There has never been a more critical time to support the call to public service,” Lauri Levitt ’81 and Michael Friedland said in reflecting on the gift. “The Levitt family is excited and proud to expand its support to The Levitt Center and see a new generation take on the initiatives for positive social change.”
Widely acknowledged as among the most popular and effective public administrators in New York’s history, Arthur Levitt, Sr., served as state comptroller for 24 years (the longest in the history of the office) until his retirement in 1978. Through six elections, he received impressive bipartisan support, attaining the largest majority ever accorded a candidate in a New York State election in his last reelection campaign. His obituary in Time magazine stated, “[he gave] his office prestige and power virtually beyond politics.” In recognition of his lifelong commitment to service, Hamilton presented him with an honorary degree in 1979.
Following Levitt’s death in 1980, his family and The Winston Foundation (formerly the Norman & Rosita Winston Foundation) made an initial commitment to establish the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center at Hamilton in his honor. The Levitt Center is one of the few undergraduate public policy centers in the United States.
Arthur Levitt, Jr., former chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and former president of The Winston Foundation, received an honorary degree from Hamilton in 1981, the same year his daughter, Lauri Levitt Friedland, current president of the foundation, graduated from the College.