About Robert F. Wagner

In 1989, the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service was named for the three-term mayor of New York, Robert F. Wagner, who was renowned for his honesty, compassion, and commitment to public service—ideals that continue to inspire and shape the NYU Wagner community today.

In office from 1953 to 1965, Mayor Wagner built public housing and schools, created the City University system, established the right of collective bargaining for city employees, and barred housing discrimination based on race, creed or color. He was the first Mayor to hire significant numbers of people of color in city government. At his urging, New York City adopted its first code of ethics. His administration brought Shakespeare to Central Park and oversaw the development of Lincoln Center and the restoration of Carnegie Hall. Mayor Wagner continued to serve the public after he left office, as United Sates Ambassador to Spain and as President Carter's special envoy to the Vatican.

This commitment to excellence was visible in three generations of Wagners, a remarkable family that has given us nearly a century of outstanding public service.

Mayor Wagner's father, Senator Robert F. Wagner, was elected to four terms in the U.S. Senate, serving from 1927 to 1949. Among his many contributions, he was author of the National Labor Relations Act, or "Wagner Act," that created the National Labor Relations Board, and prime sponsor of the Social Security Act, arguably the most important piece of social welfare legislation of the 20th century.

Mayor Wagner's son, Bobby Wagner, combined his father's sense of decency, compassion and deliberation with fresh ideas to tackle issues of poverty, education, government accountability and long-term urban planning. He served New York City with great distinction as Chair of the City Planning Commission, President of the Board of Education, and Deputy Mayor.

At the time of its naming, the School received a major endowment that has enabled it to focus on the future. Today, the Wagner legacy provides inspiration for future leaders of government, nonprofit and health organizations. With programs and courses designed to develop public leaders with integrity, with a commitment to efficient, effective and responsive government, and with a desire to serve people, we strive to honor the strong public service values and enormous contributions of Robert Wagner and the Wagner family.