Kenneth Keller came to the Humphrey School in September of 1996, after serving as President for the University of Minnesota. Keller saw how the intersection of science and policy was becoming an important aspect of society and predicted that the issues would only grow. Thus, he began to establish the Center for Science, Technology, and Public Policy.
Keller had a few very specific goals for the center. First, he made it a priority to create an endowed chair for the center to ensure that the mission would not rest in the work of one person but continue on. With o a generous financial gift by Charles M Denny, Jr., former CEO of ADC Telecommunications, Keller was able to establish the Denny Chair as the anchor for the center. The Denny Chair currently is held by Professor Deborah Swackhamer.
In addition to the Denny Chair, Keller worked on expanding the faculty base in science and technology policy. He believed it was important to hire faculty members with both strong science backgrounds and those that had worked closely in policy areas. Keller believed only with that joint expertise would the center be truly effective. One outcome of this effort was the Master of Science in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy degree program.
The original agreement signed by Kenneth Keller, Dean Brain Atwood, and President Robert Bruininks spoke to addressing the policy issues related to climate change and its impact on the economic sectors. Included in this agreement was a commitment to explore science and technology goals as they relate to security, economic growth, health, environmental sustainability, and education. Furthermore, the center was to research the impact of science and technology on political and economic relations among nations and to aid in the development of governmental polices that will support research and development locally, nationally, and internationally. These goals largely have been achieved.
"The goal we have in this program is two-fold. It is, on one hand, to understand how that interactive process works; how we can anticipate and avoid the unintended consequences of new technologies and, at the same time, how we can promote the social and institutional changes that will allow us to realize the potential benefits of new knowledge. On the other hand, we want to understand what kinds of policies will help us to develop that new knowledge; that is, how we can use the instruments of policy and power of the purse to encourage and support the creative acts of discovery and invention by which we build the knowledge base that can subsequently be exploited for the benefit of society."
-- Kenneth Keller, May 4, 1999