Remembering L. Vaughn Blankenship, 1934-2017

Dear CUPPA Family,

I write with the sad news of the passing of L. Vaughn Blankenship, professor emeritus of Public Administration.  Although he retired from UIC in 2004, his legacy lives on at UIC, not only in CUPPA but in the combination of the UIC circle campus with the UI medical center campus to form our current UIC administrative structure back in the early 1980s.

Dr. Vaughn Blankenship’s career was long and varied.  He mentored and influenced hundreds of students over the years.  In his final administrative position as director of the Public Administration program, Vaughn knew exactly how things worked at the university -- usually before anyone else could figure it out.  He always remembered and advocated for the mission and value of higher education in general and UIC in particular: high quality research and scholarship, the drive to solve problems through the examination of policy and conditions; and the kindness to slow down, work above the fray, and inspire and lead where he could. This he did with warmth, dignity and a smile.

After Vaughn received his doctorate from the Graduate School of Business and Public Administration at Cornell University in 1962, he pursued roughly four different, but related, professional careers.  First, he began as an academic whose teaching and research interests grew out of his graduate work.  He joined the faculty at UC-Berkeley, which gave him an opportunity to examine and take advantage of the flow of research dollars, from government in general and NASA in particular, on the impact of technology on science and the management of R&D.  He then left academia and served as a Federal executive with a variety of R&D management, planning, budget and other staff responsibilities at the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and the Science Policy Division of the Congressional Research Service, during one of the most interesting times in the history of U.S. science policy.

Next, Vaughn pursued a career in university administration as associate chancellor to the first chancellor of the University of Illinois at Chicago with a broad range of policy and management responsibilities on the campus.  Finally, he became a professor of Political Science and later served as professor and director of the Public Administration program in CUPPA. Vaughn was instrumental in building CUPPA’s graduate program in public administration in, what was at the time, UIC’s “new” College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, in 1995.

Throughout his diverse career, Vaughn’s dedication to the advancement and promotion of the field of Public Administration was constant.  He presented papers at a diverse set of professional meetings, including the Society for the Social Study of Science, the American Political Science Association, the Conference on Strategic Alternatives for Computing in Universities, the Conference on Information Management Basics in a New Technological Era, the American Psychological Association, the American Marketing Association and the American Society for Public Administration.  By presenting at these various conferences and meetings, he brought the unique perspective and knowledge of Public Administration to professionals in other fields. He was a persistent voice for integrating IT and e-governance in the curriculum and in the scholarship of researchers.

Vaughn served as a consultant to various local and federal organizations and as a member or chair of many influential committees.  He received many awards including the 1999 Outstanding Faculty Member by Public Policy and Public Service Programs and the National Science Foundation Agency Award for Outstanding Job Performance.

His career in government and academia was an inspiration to us all. His commitment and dedication to his wife, Irene, and family was heart-warming, as he would regale in stories of his travels and life in rural Arizona, Washington, DC, and other places. Our heartfelt condolences go to Vaughn’s wife of 61 years and to his children.  He will be as missed as he was an inspiration.



Michael A. Pagano

Dean, College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs

Professor, Public Administration

Project Director, UIC Urban Forum