Brown center will train new leaders
November 15, 2007 9:42 AM
Former San Francisco mayor and SF State alumnus Willie Brown, Jr. is establishing a center for training future civil servants at the university.
Steve Kawa, who worked under Brown during his two terms as mayor and was Mayor Gavin Newsom’s chief of staff from 2004 to Jan. 2007, is in place as the executive director of the new Willie L. Brown, Jr. Leadership Center.
“There is a huge demand, and a growing demand, for well-educated and well-trained public servants in all fields,” Kawa said. “How does city government find those folks?
Brown, who graduated from SF State in 1955through internships that offer substantial experience, Kawa said. The program is slated to begin with 40 students in Summer 2008.
“Students have this great desire to have internship opportunities,” Kawa said. “But opportunities that benefit them. I am not going to send SFSU students into internship experiences that aren’t meaningful.”
It won’t be a hard sell, Kawa said, to get government offices to accept student interns. As the Baby Boomer generation approaches retirement age, they are looking to the next generation for successors.
The center’s focus will be on local and regional government, making it the first such program at a major university, according to center promotional materials.
“Look how issues are being dealt with in our country,” Kawa said. Local governments, he argued, are taking the lead on major issues confronting the United States.
In addition to the interning program, the center plans on hosting a series of political leaders and commentators. This program will draw on Brown’s many contacts in the political world.
“We have an historic race next year for president, we have the odd-numbered seats on the board of supervisors—I want the Brown Center to be the place where people get involved in their democracy,” Kawa said.
Brown is also donating a collection of his papers and videotapes to the archives of SF State’s J. Paul Leonard Library. The collection consists of “about 200 boxes” of material, according to Kawa.
Due to a lack of space and funding, however, the Brown archive is not scheduled to be incorporated into the library.
“There is no space in the current library for the collection at this time,” University Librarian Debbie Masters wrote in an e-mail. “Library faculty and staff members are working on preparing the material temporarily housed in another campus building for off-site storage.” The process will involve taking inventory of the material and repacking it for archiving.
The former mayor may be teaching a course himself as an adjunct faculty member. Kawa said he is working “hand in hand” with university officials to make that happen.
“He definitely wants to come out here and teach,” Kawa said. “I had seven years with Mayor Brown and every day was like a semester to me. He is the personification of leadership.”
Joel Kassiola, dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, is assembling a “working group” of faculty to work with the center, Kawa said.
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