By Andrew R. Koch
The University of Baltimore’s Center for Public Policy, named for one of the most colorful characters in Maryland political history, now has a home of its own.
The Schaefer Center for Public Policy, part of the university’s College of Liberal Arts and Public Policy, will be celebrating its 30th anniversary next spring. On April 10, a dedication ceremony was held at the new home for the Schaefer Center at 5 West Chase Street. The center has been operating out of the building since November of last year.
The center is named for the late William Donald Schaefer, who was the mayor of Baltimore from 1971 to 1987, and then Governor of Maryland from 1987 to 1995 (he was known as “The Mayor of Maryland”), and Comptroller from 1999 to 2007. Schaefer graduated from UB’s Law School in 1942. He was at times a controversial figure because of his push to revitalize Baltimore during his four-term tenure as Mayor; he was known for playing hardball to fund housing, transportation and development projects. One of his biggest accomplishments as Mayor was Harborplace, the pavilion of shops and restaurants on the Inner Harbor along Pratt Street. As Governor, he saw Oriole Park at Camden Yards—a project he pushed as Mayor—come to fruition. The Center has displayed pictures of him looking over the completed ballpark as well as throwing out the first pitch at the Orioles’ home opener in 1992.
Schaefer Center Director Dr. Ann Cotten says Schaefer led by example in promoting good government.
“His life was all about public service, 50, 60 years of nothing but dedication to service, efficiency in government, making sure that government worked for the people, and that was pretty much his legacy,” Dr. Cotten said.
The center used to be housed on the fifth floor of the Liberal Arts and Public Policy Building on West Preston Street. Dr. Cotton says when the Center for Children, Family and Courts moved into the Angelos Law Building as part of the university’s expansion, that freed up space for the Schaefer Center to move into its new home. Graduate Fellows Elena Timusheva and Elise Major-Whiteford both say it’s great for the center to have its own place for all its stuff, as well as to make it more visible.
“We have our own building where we can put our sign, and it’s better for the marketability and visibility for the center […] We have our own building, people can come in, and they know the Schaefer Center is here,” Timusheva said.
“We’re closer. We’re kind of embedded in the community,” Major-Whiteford added.
The new Schaefer Center includes a call center for phone research surveys on public policy issues are conducted. Recent projects include a survey of drivers for the State Highway Administration. Other recent projects the center has worked on include a voter access study for the Maryland General Assembly, and training for election judges, including more than 3,000 in Baltimore City. Other projects the center is working on include wait times for voters and looking into the feasibility of early voting on Sundays.