Dana and Nancy Mead have endowed the Dana and Nancy Mead Public Affairs Fellowships at SPEA to educate emerging leaders from the heartland. Mead Public Affairs Fellowships will assist SPEA in recruiting outstanding MPA students by funding the tuition and living stipend of awardees for two academic years. Their endowment leverages Indiana University’s Bicentennial Campaign’s matching funds, doubling its impact.
The Meads know the importance of education. Nancy was a full-time elementary school teacher for 16 of the first 20 years of their marriage. Dana was a professor and deputy head of the Social Sciences Department at his undergraduate alma mater, West Point, prior to his corporate career as executive vice president of International Paper and then as president, CEO, and chair of Tenneco.
“I always believed that I could have more influence on the army by teaching cadets – the future leaders of the army – then I could in the active units of the army,” Dana says. “And watching Nancy teach first grade convinced me that education is crucial for getting kids on the right track.”
Over the years, the Meads have made significant contributions to higher education across the United States. Dana is chairman emeritus of the MIT Corporation (he received his Ph.D. in political science and economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), is currently chair of the SPEA Dean’s Council, is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, is on the board of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, and is a longtime Governor of the National Boys and Girls Club of America. Dana was also in the fifth class of the White House Fellows Program, and served as deputy director of the White House Domestic Council. Together, the Meads estimate they’ve financed over 200 undergraduate Mead Scholars in summer internships in the federal government and at least 20 scholarships for SPEA students.
“SPEA does an extremely good job of filling an important need, academically,” Dana explains. “SPEA encourages highly critical thinking about policy, and they do it well. I’m also a fan of the administration, faculty, and staff – it’s an efficient, focused organization.”
“The Meads are enthusiastic supporters of SPEA’s academic mission,” says Dean John D. Graham. “The establishment of the Mead Fellowship solidifies their commitment to making a SPEA education available to students in the heartland who have the merit, but may need assistance with resources. We are appreciative of their generosity to our programs.”
For SPEA’s students, Dana hopes that they never shy away from opportunities for leadership where they can put the skills and preparation that SPEA has provided them to work.
“Accept challenges. Don’t sell yourself short,” Dana says, “You should have confidence in your abilities, and know that your education has prepared you to meet the challenges and responsibilities of the future with success.”
As for the focus on the heartland – the section of the U.S. that’s left when you carve off the coasts – that’s the part of the country where the Meads have their roots.
Dana was born in Iowa, and Nancy in Illinois. When Dana moved to Illinois, the two went to the same high school, but did not start dating until college, when she was a student at Washington University in St. Louis, and he was a cadet at West Point.
Now married 60 years, with two sons and seven grandsons, looking back, there’s not much the Meads would change.
“I think we would pretty much do what we did,” Dana says, looking out over the harbor view from their Maine home, and Nancy agrees.
Read Dana Mead’s SPEA Dean’s Council Biography
To learn more about the Dana and Nancy Mead Public Affairs Fellowship, including how to apply, contact SPEA’s Office of Development and Alumni Relations at (812) 856-0509 or email.