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During the late 1960's, educators nationwide recognized the need for a new kind of public leadership and a new type of graduate education, fostering the vision, knowledge, and practical skills to empower a new generation of policy makers. The Goldman School of Public Policy, founded at the University of California, Berkeley in 1969, was one of the nation’s first graduate programs of its kind. As such, it has helped define the art and science of modern public policy.

Aaron Wildavsky, a political scientist, was the Goldman School’s founding dean. He helped established what would become GSPP distinctives: a strong quantitative core, an analytic “tool kit,” committed faculty, a strong sense of community and hands-on experience. The first group of faculty included Allan Sindler, Arnold Meltsner, Bart McGuire, Percy Tannenbaum, Bob Biller, Bill Niskanen and Eugene Bardach, the author of A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis: The Eightfold Path to More Effective Problem Solving, a distillation of the policy analysis methods developed at GSPP.

The Goldman School’s first home was on the northside of the UC Berkeley campus in the the former Beta Theta Pi fraternity house. In 2002, GSPP added a second building and adjoining courtyard, made possible by the generosity of Richard and Rhoda Goldman.