December 2, 2019

Mourning the Loss of William D. Ruckelshaus

Last week, our nation lost a remarkable statesman and true public servant, William D. Ruckelshaus. My first job out of undergrad was with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the Boston office, while Bill Ruckelshaus served as the big boss in DC, having returned to the EPA for his second term.  It was a challenging time for public service, in some ways it was similar to today. It was a period of rapid development; a time when people were skeptical about institutions, concerned with transparency and potential conflicts of interest, and deeply focused on social justice.

During that time, Bill Ruckelshaus committed the EPA to open communication with the public and to strategies aimed at preventing conflicts of interest.  He ensured that input from ALL sectors would be heard when making decisions.  He understood the potential and the promise of these safeguards and partnerships to help our government work better for everyone.

Several years before, Bill demonstrated steadfast moral courage while serving at the highest levels of national government during a constitutional crisis in the Watergate era.  Bill’s resoluteness, his unwavering commitment to truth and justice, set a shining example then, and inspires us anew today.

I am deeply grateful to Bill for his dedication to public service and hope you will join me in reflecting on the ways his courage shaped the ethical grounding of our field, the future of our region, and the health of our planet.

The Evans School has long been proud to be a university partner of the Ruckelshaus Center, which embodies Bill’s values of promoting and facilitating collaborative governance and public problem solving. We will continue to honor his legacy in support of the Center’s work developing collaborative and durable solutions to complex policy challenges.


Alison C. Cullen