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Washington University in St Louis Olin Business School

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Home > Partners & Resources > Brookings Executive Education > Legacy of Robert S Brookings
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Legacy of Robert S. Brookings

St. Louis businessman and philanthropist played pivotal role in Washington University and Brookings Institution.

Robert S. Brookings was president of the Washington University in St. Louis Board of Trustees from 1895 to 1928. As head of the governing board he gave much of his time, fortune, and later his personal estate to revitalize the university and its medical school.

In 1916, Brookings worked with other government reformers to create the first private organization devoted to the fact-based study of public policy. The new Institute for Government Research became the chief advocate for effective and efficient public service and sought to bring “science” to the study of government.

Brookings was called by President Woodrow Wilson to run the Pricing Board during World War I. It was during this service that Brookings realized the need for developing leaders in government who were schooled in the art of handling problems. He then created two sister organizations, the Institute of Economics (1922) and the Robert S. Brookings Graduate School (1923), which was part of Washington University.

In 1927, all three organizations combined to create the establishment that bears his name: The Brookings Institution.

Brookings's deep commitment to public service and education is reflected in the partnership between these two institutions for which he was a common benefactor. Brookings Executive Education is committed to delivering on his promise to “teach the art of handling problems rather than simply impart accumulated knowledge.”