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U.S. News & World Report ranked Syracuse and Maryland in its top 10 graduate programs for public policy analysis, at eighth and ninth, respectively. Princeton’s Wilson School was ranked sixth.

William Robertson ’72 and other family members sued the University in 2002, alleging that the University had spent money from the endowment for purposes beyond their original intent.

When the University settled with members of the Robertson family in December 2008, it agreed to provide $60 million for the family to launch a new public service foundation, including $10 million in interest, and to pay $40 million for the Robertson’s legal fees.

In the deal, the University took full control of the remainder of the Robertson endowment fund, which had grown to more than $700 million from the $35 million given in 1961 by Charles and Marie Robertson to the Wilson School’s graduate program to support the education of future government workers.

In March, William Robertson told The Daily Princetonian that his new foundation would pair with four or five schools initially, seeking programs “interested in the mission of the Robertson Foundation for Government and ... dedicated to ensuring all of the foundation’s financial commitments go towards accomplishing the mission of placing students in the federal government.” He could not be reached for comment following the announcement of its initial partners.

Though the family’s main complaint with Princeton was that it used funding for projects that were not directly related to the goal of government service, Herb Berkowitz, a spokesman for the foundation, said in an e-mail that the foundation foresees smooth relationships with its new partners.

“We are confident that the funds will be used for the proper purpose, because in their selection of Robertson fellows the universities seek out only graduate students who indicate they have a strong interest in pursuing government careers and who agree to serve a minimum of three of their first five years (after graduation) in federal government positions,” Berkowitz said. “This will help weed out candidates who aren’t serious about working for the government.”

In March, William Robertson said that the foundation was seeking students who saw government service “not as an option, but a potential calling,” adding that he hoped that the Robertson Scholarship would one day have as much impact as the Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships.

“The establishment of the Robertson Foundation for Government will honor our parents’ commitment to this mission,” Robertson added.

Though the partner universities ultimately select scholarship winners, the Robertson family has worked with the schools to establish scholar criteria, including a preference for students interested in international relations.

The foundation will give each of its partner institutions between $340,000 and $480,000 over four years. This will cover all costs for graduate students, which total roughly $70,000 over two years.

Though there are 11 students in the inaugural class, the foundation hopes to garner more funds to support a class of 25 fellows in the 2011-12 academic year, a more tempered figure than the 40 to 50 students Robertson projected in March.

Berkowitz noted that the foundation plans to add “at least one more [school], maybe more” next year. Berkowitz declined to comment on whether Princeton could be a candidate to partner with the foundation in the future.   

A press release from the Robertson Foundation indicated that the program’s initial funding comes from the settlement with Princeton. But apart from the legal fees that the University has already paid, it will not start giving money to the foundation until 2012.

Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story misattributed information about the size of future classes supported by the foundation to Herb Berkowitz.  

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