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Letter from the Director

Introducing the Center for Public Service

Photo of Phil Keisling, Director, Center for Public Service

Phil Keisling, Director, Center for Public Service

In December 1862, President Abraham Lincoln could hardly know the American Civil War would last for another two and half brutalizing years. But he keenly understood that the world he and his fellow citizens had so recently known would never again be the same.

“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present,” Lincoln observed in his annual address to Congress. “The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves — and then we shall save our country.”

Lincoln’s quote is a timely reminder that however daunting our current difficulties – double digit unemployment, looming budget deficits, our increasingly dysfunctional politics – these are hardly the “worst of times” our citizens have lived through. And these times will eventually pass.

The real issue is whether we will merely endure our current challenges – or prevail against and truly transcend them. Will we be able to think anew, much less act anew? Will we prove able to “disenthrall ourselves” of old and stale thinking – and bring new energy, thinking, and talent to bear on the many “wicked problems” we now face?

Here at the Center for Public Service, at PSU’s Mark O. Hatfield School of Government, it’s our mission to help public and non-profit leaders find good answers and practical solutions to such questions. And as we describe in more detail in this newsletter, CPS offers a wide range of programs towards this end. Continue reading

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