Karsh Institute to take on public service functions from Weldon Cooper

Change is coming for one of the University of Virginia’s most public-facing institutions. The various entities that have been under the umbrella of the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service will now be moving to the Karth Institute of Democracy, as reported by UVA Today

This includes the Virginia Institute of Government, the Sorensen Institute of Political Leadership, the Center for Survey Research, the Center for Economic and Policy Studies, and the Demographic Research Group. The latter provides the official population estimates and forecasts for the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

The announcement dates back to last July and the change takes place on July 1. The name Weldon Cooper will continue to be used in some capacity. 

“The Weldon Cooper Center has a long history of supporting good governance across the Commonwealth, and we intend to keep the Center intact,” writes Alexandra Rebhorn, communications and engagement director for the center. “The Cooper Center has incorporated many different entities over the years, so we will continue to look at ways to flexibly enhance its service model in years to come.” 

The center’s origins date back to 1931 according to materials on the center’s website. 

“UVA and the Virginia Municipal League establish the Bureau of Public Administration to help Virginia localities deal with the effects of the Great Depression,” reads a presentation on the current set-up. 

In 1969 that Bureau was renamed the Institute of Government. In 1987, the Institute merged with the Tayloe Murphy Institute. The Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service became the new name in 1994. 

Weldon Cooper was a secretary to the Board of Visitors who advised many UVA Presidents before his retirement in 1973. 

The Karsh Institute is named after Martha and Bruce Karsh who donated $50 million to the $100 million effort to bring all of UVA’s centers on government and policy under one umbrella. The new building will be located in the Emmet-Ivy Corridor. 

Last December, the Buildings and Grounds Committee of the Board of Visitors debated its architecture with some members decrying the lack of brick.  Nearby off of Old Ivy Road is the Center for Politics. Last week, the same panel approved the basic concept for an expansion of the Center that includes extension of a road to Leonard Sandridge Drive. (read the story)

Rebhorn said the Center is still in the process of identifying how each unit will refer to itself under the new arrangement. 

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