Robert F. Rich, 1949 – 2022

Robert F. Rich, 1949 – 2022


Robert F. Rich was a Professor of Law, Political Science, Medical Humanities and Social Sciences, Community Health, and Health Policy & Administration at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He was a "Faculty Fellow" in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Public Engagement and Institutional Relations and Director of the Office of Public Management within the Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA). He served as the Director of IGPA from 1986 to 1997. In the 1993-94 academic year, he was on sabbatical leave in Washington, D.C. at the Johns Hopkins University Center for the Study of American Government; he was also a "Special Guest" at the Brookings Institution. In the 2002-03 academic year, Professor Rich was the Mercator Professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany where he was also appointed as a Permanent Fellow in the European Center for Comparative Government and Public Policy. In 2004, he was a Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Social Law in Munich. He served a second term as Director of IGPA from 2005 until his retirement in 2012.

Before coming to the University of Illinois, Rich was on the faculty of the Heinz School of Urban and Public Affairs at Carnegie-Mellon University (1982-86), the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University ( 1976-82), the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (1975-76), and the University of Chicago (1974-75). He authored six books and over 50 articles in the areas of health law and policy, federalism, information policy, and science and technology policy.


Robin Fretwell Wilson, Director, IGPA - "Bob Rich is the only person to have served as IGPA's director twice.  We would not be the organization we are today without having had Bob at the helm for 18 years."

Brian Gaines, IGPA Partnering Scholar - "Bob Rich was devoted to the University of Illinois.  He had appointments at IGPA, both the Colleges of Law and Medicine, Political Science -- seemingly everywhere. When I was a first-year Assistant Professor, I made some comment about "the university" doing something or other and he corrected me, "No, that was the campus." I had to pause to register what the difference was. Thereafter, I knew he was a guy who would always be on top of who was up to what."

David F. Merriman, IGPA Senior Partnering Scholar - “Bob’s time as an IGPA leader was marked by growth, a focus on leadership, academic rigor, and relevance. He had extraordinary energy and fully believed in the IGPA mission of evidence-based policy analyses. He encouraged and empowered my work on fiscal stability and helped us get our message to the Illinois legislature.”

Geoffrey Hewings, Director REAL (1989-2016) - "In late 1988, Philip Israilevich (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago) and I approached Bob Rich about IGPA hosting a new initiative between the Chicago Fed and the University of Illinois.  Bob was enthusiastic and so at the end of January 1989, The Regional Economics Applications Laboratory was officially launched.  Over the next three decades, REAL managed to produce a series of innovative economic models for states and metropolitan areas, initially focused on the Midwest but later expanding to Brazil and Austria.  REAL was modeled like a science lab, with students and faculty housed in one large room to facilitate and encourage interaction.  Over 3 decades, REAL managed to attract over 400 visiting scholars from more than 30 countries, including the creation of a Bolsa Sanduiche program with Brazilian universities, support the research for over 40 doctoral dissertations at Illinois and provide the stimulus for the creation of several 'clones' in Brazil, Chile, Spain, Mexico, China and the UK.  Thank you, Bob for your initial support that helped launch this interesting experiment."

James Paul, IGPA Communications Manager 2006-2009, Assistant Director 2009-2019, Associate Director 2019-2021 - “Bob Rich was an ambitious leader. He always looked for ways to stretch IGPA’s reach and effectiveness on Illinois’ public policy landscape. I learned a lot from him over the six years that we worked together. One of Bob’s strengths as a leader was that he always sought to find roles for people in which they could be very effective, and then he stepped back and let them do their work. This allowed creative ideas to emerge among the IGPA faculty and staff that led to several successful programs that propelled the institute’s growth.”

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All time 153 Today 3
August 10, 2022

With sadness, we gather voices here to remember Bob Rich's legacy.

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