Macalester Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Urban, Assistant Secretary of HUD, Mayor of St. Paul
George has supported the mission of Macalester’s geography department and urban studies program for decades. While Mayor of St. Paul and President of the League of Municipalities in the 1980s, he Co-Directed the Mayor’s Forum on the Quality of Urban Life which brought to Campus innovative and effective mayors from across the county and abroad to speak at Macalester and interact with our community. After serving as an assistant to Henry Cisneros, Secretary of HUD, he came to Macalester as a Distinguished Professor of Urban Studies to offer classes, provide guest lectures, work with the Community Engagement Office and advise students and faculty. He has been honored numerous times for his outstanding record of public service. Now is the time for him to be honored by Macalester.
His work at our college brought a large dose of reality and practical experience to the curriculum. He continuously admonished students to do more than “admire urban problems”. Writing a paper is not enough for George. He wants students to work toward solutions and be prepared to lead when called upon.
George intended his classes to motivate students. His skills were to provide overviews based on experience and to bring members of his extensive professional network into his classes. For example, students heard about the issues of homelessness from the homeless; strategies for providing low income housing were presented by the head of the State House Finance Agency and executive directors of non-profit housing corporations; and his own extensive experience as a Board Member on national housing corporations provided a base for students to evaluate various critiques of and plans for dealing with housing issues. No public figure in the Twin Cities turned down George’s invitation to speak to the Introduction to Urban Studies Class.
After he retired George was a regular participant in my Urban Geography of North America Class. We used his experience as Mayor and Deputy Secretary of HUD to frame our discussions of Central Business District decline and redevelopment, and our more general analysis of urban governance. He also discussed in detail the difficulty of implementing policies. Always happy to connect students to active professionals he facilitated many research projects and provided important references to students embarking on their careers.
He did not limit his support to students, however. He played a leading role in the Mellon Urban Faculty Seminar in Chicago by helping us envision the scope of field seminar and arrange for Preservation of Affordable Housing, Inc., a national developer of low income housing communities, to host the Macalester seminar at one of its Chicago communities.
Given any opportunity George is quick to heap praise on the geography students and faculty of Macalester. He wears his Tartan proudly. He is most deserving of a Crystal Globe.