In 2007 Frank Batten, Sr., chairman and CEO of Landmark Communications, Inc., founder of The Weather Channel, dedicated $100 million for the creation of the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

“Never has there been a greater need for the University’s most important product: enlightened and ethical leaders who leave Grounds prepared for public life—in their communities, in their professions, in the world at large.”Frank Batten, Sr.

Batten, a forward-thinking philanthropist committed to supporting educational initiatives and serving the public good, saw an urgent need for a new generation of leaders who could affect transformational change. He emphasized leadership as one of the key skills required for success in the field of public policy. “Talented public leaders are needed from a range of professional backgrounds. It is critical to get younger people excited about the responsibilities and opportunities of public service in all its manifestations,” Batten said. “The earlier in their careers that exceptional students begin to think of themselves as future public leaders who can promote a better society, the greater the likelihood they will become such leaders.” 


The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy is authoring a new model of public policy education. Of the 250-plus schools of public policy and administration in the United States, the Batten School has the distinction of being the only one explicitly committed to teaching leadership—how it works, why context matters in decision-making and which actions lead to tangible results. The School’s programs inspire students to act vigorously, effectively and ethically on behalf of the common good.

The Batten School was a much different place when its doors first opened. There were two full-time faculty members, three staff and two dozen students enrolled in the new master’s program. From this modest beginning, the School has grown more than tenfold in just over a decade. Nearly 170 students are enrolled in the post-graduate and accelerated Master of Public Policy (MPP) programs, joined by 175 undergraduates and 30 students minoring in Public Policy and Leadership. Batten graduates are in high demand—the School’s MPP class of 2017 reached full employment within six months of graduation. Students emerge from the Batten School understanding social responsibility and equipped with specific skills to work collaboratively and successfully in real-world environments to achieve a shared mission and accomplish common goals.

In response to surging demand, Batten has expanded to more than 30 staff and 70 interdisciplinary faculty scholars (view the Batten School Organizational Chart). The School’s innovative approach has attracted leading scholar-practitioners in political science, social psychology, policy history, economics, and law from around the globe. Their areas of focus reflect the drive and research of some of the sharpest minds at work in policy and leadership today. Batten faculty also lead the School’s seven research centers, which focus on the areas of health policy; social entrepreneurship; education policy; global policy; leadership and simulation; legislative effectiveness; and national security policy.

While much has changed over the years, the Batten School remains committed to its founding mission: to produce enlightened and ethical leaders who leave Grounds prepared for public life—in their communities, in their professions, and in the world at large.