UW News

June 25, 2013

Brewster Denny, founding dean and civic leader, dies at 88

News and Information

Brewster C. Denny, the founder of what is now the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington, one of the first independent public schools of public administration in the country, died Saturday (June 22) at the age of 88.

Brewster DennyDenny, the great-grandson of Arthur and Mary Denny, founders of Seattle and the UW, in 1962 created the Graduate School of Public Affairs,  where he served first as director and later as dean, a position he held until 1980. He continued to teach diplomatic history and American foreign policy at the school until 2004. He was named professor and dean emeritus in 1992.

Denny’s public service included:

  • Naval service in World War II and the Korean War;
  • Supervisory intelligence research analysis in the Department of Defense (1952 to 1960);
  • Professional staff member of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on National Policy Machinery (1960 to 1961);
  • Presidential member of the U.S. Puerto Rico Commission and member of the President’s Advisory Council on Intergovernmental Personnel Policy;
  • Adviser to Secretary of Health and Human Services Patricia Roberts Harris on reorganization of that department;
  • Adviser during the national security transition between the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations;
  • U.S. representative to the General Assembly of the United Nations (1968);
  • Representative of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, advising on science policy in Thailand, Korea, the Philippines and Jordan.

In the founding documents of the Evans School, Denny identified the purpose for offering degrees in public administration as improving “the quality of the conduct of the public’s business by the preparation of mature, aware, committed, and intellectually well-equipped men and women for public service at all levels of government and by marshaling of the intellectual resources of the university to break new ground in the study of critical problems of public policy.”

“Brewster Denny established the Evans School because he believed that a professional public service education should be accessible to all,” said Sandra Archibald, dean of the Evans School. “He has left a legacy that continues to shape public leadership in the nation and the world, a legacy that has resulted in thousands of alumni who lead in critical positions in public administration and policy.”

Among his numerous honors, he received the Distinguished Citizen Award of the National Municipal League, the Outstanding Public Service Award of the University of Washington Alumni Association, the Distinguished Service Award of the Seattle Federal Executive Board and the Outstanding Advocate for Children award from the Children’s Alliance.

Denny received a bachelor’s degree from the UW in 1945. He earned a master’s (1948) and doctorate (1959) from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Harvard and Tufts universities.

The family suggests memorial contributions should be made to the Brewster C. Denny Fellowship at the Evans School of Public Affairs, or to the Children’s Alliance.

A memorial service celebrating his life will be held at Epiphany Church in Seattle at 3 p.m. Tuesday, July 9.