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Mordecai Lee 


Mordecai Lee

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Contact Information

Landline: 414-227-3282
Campus mail: CEPB 6394
Office address:

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Suite 6000
161 West Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee WI 53203-2602

Academic and Professional Positions

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (1997-present): Professor of Urban Planning (2015-present), Professor of Governmental Affairs (2006-14), Associate Professor of Governmental Affairs (2002-06), Assistant Professor of Governmental Affairs (1997-2002) 

Executive Director of Milwaukees Jewish Community Relations Council (1990-97), a faith-based nonprofit involved in public policy and human rights advocacy 

Appointed to the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage Commission (1988-89), chair of the Finance and Personnel Committee

Elected to the Wisconsin Legislatures State Assembly (1976, 1978, 1980) and State Senate (1982, 1986) 

Legislative Assistant, Congressman Henry Reuss (WI-5), Washington, DC (1975-76)

Guest Scholar, Brookings Institution, Washington, DC (1972-74)


Ph.D. in Public Administration, Syracuse University, 1975

Master of Public Administration (MPA), Syracuse University, 1972

Bachelor of Arts, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1970, Phi Beta Kappa


A Presidential Civil Service: FDR's Liaison Office for Personnel Management (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2016).

The Philosopher-Lobbyist: John Dewey and the People's Lobby, 1928-1940 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2015).

Promoting the War Effort: Robert Horton and Federal Propaganda, 1938-1946 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2012).

Co-editor, with Grant Neeley and Kendra Stewart, The Practice of Government Public Relations (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2012). 

Congress vs. the Bureaucracy: Muzzling Agency Public Relations (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2011). Winner of the Presss annual Rothbaum Prize for exceptional scholarship and writing on American politics and history.”

Nixons Super-Secretaries: The Last Grand Presidential Reorganization Effort (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2010).

Bureaus of Efficiency: Reforming Local Government in the Progressive Era (Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 2008).

Editor, Government Public Relations: A Reader (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2008).

Institutionalizing Congress and the Presidency: The U.S. Bureau of Efficiency, 1916-1933 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2006). 

The First Presidential Communications Agency: FDRs Office of Government Reports (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2005). 


“Trying to Professionalize Expert Knowledge: The Short Life of the Municipal Administration Service, 1926-1933,” Public Voices 15:2 (forthcoming 2017).

Public Reporting in Public Administration, circa 1939: The Annual Report as Fictional Radio Stories, Public Voices 15:1 (forthcoming 2016).

“Information is Power: Women as Information Providers to the President’s Budgeting Men; A History of the Bureau of the Budget Library, 1940-1970,” Public Voices 14:2 (2016) 87-106.

Colluding to Create the American Society for Public Administration and the Consequent Collateral Damage, Public Voices 14:1 (2014) 2-27.

“Lo, the Poor Volunteer Manager: Hollywood’s Nonprofit Volunteer and Volunteer Manager,” co-authored with Jeffrey L. Brudney (lead author), Public Voices 14:1 (2014) 77-96.

A Progressive Era Idea for Reforming Government that Didn’t Make It: Recall of Judicial Decisions, Public Voices 13:1 (2013) 58-78.

Glimpsing an Alternate Construction of American Public Administration: The Later Life of William Allen, Co-Founder of the New York Bureau of Municipal Research, Administration & Society 45:5 (July 2013) 522-62. 

Defending a Controversial Agency: Edward C. Banfield as Farm Security Agency Public Relations Officer, 1941–1946,” co-authored with Kevin R. Kosar (lead author), Federal History 5 (2013) 121-138.

Pop Culture as Civics Lesson: Exploring the Dearth of State Legislatures in Hollywood’s Public Sector, Public Voices 12:2 (2012) 49-67.

Do’s and Don’ts of Public Relations for Government Health Care Administration, Journal of Health and Human Services Administration 35:3 (Winter 2012) 258-73.

“Toward Generalizing about Congressional Control over Agency PR: The Failure of Spending Limits on Pentagon PR, 1951-1959,” Public Administration Quarterly 36:3 (Fall 2012) 341-79.

“The President’s Listening Post: Nixon’s Failed Experiment in Government Public Relations,” Public Relations Review 38:1 (March 2012) 22-31.

Creating the First Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations (1941-1949) and Subsequent Developments: A Case Study of Thickening in the Federal Bureaucracy, Public Voices 12:1 (2011) 27-45.

Historical Milestones in the Emergence of Nonprofit Public Relations in the US, 1900-1956, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 40:2 (April 2011) 318-35. 

History of US Public Administration in the Progressive Era: Efficient Government by and for Whom? Journal of Management History 17:1 (2011) 88-101.

Herman Beyle and James McCamy: Founders of the Study of Public Relations in Public Administration, 1928-1939, Public Voices 11:2 (2010) 26-46.

The Role of the YMCA in the Origins of U.S. Nonprofit Management Education, Nonprofit Management & Leadership 20:3 (Spring 2010) 277-93.

Government Public Relations During Herbert Hoovers Presidency (Research in Brief), Public Relations Review 36:1 (March 2010) 56-58.

How a Bill Becomes a Law, Hollywood Style,”  Public Voices 11:1 (2009) 66-88; Introduction to Symposium on Public Service in the Minds Eye, Public Voices 11:1 (2009) 1-7.

“Too Much Bureaucracy or Too Little? Congressional Treatment of Defense Department Legislative Liaison, 1950s-1990s,” Public Administration & Management 14:2 (2009) 323-61.

Origins of the Epithet Government by Public Relations: Revisiting Bruce Cattons War Lords of Washington, 1948, Public Relations Review 35:4 (November 2009) 388-94. 

The Return of Public Relations to the Public Administration Curriculum? Journal of Public Affairs Education 15:4 (Fall 2009) 515-33.

A Case Study of Congressional Hostility to Agency Public Relations: The Federal Reserve and Senator Heflin, 1922 (Research in Brief), Public Relations Review 35:3 (September 2009) 291-93. 

Flicks of Government Flacks: The Sequel (Research in Brief), Public Relations Review 35:2 (June 2009) 159-61. A more detailed version than the published one (including references) is also available.

The Short Life of the Government Public Relations Association in the US, 1949-1958 (Research in Brief), Public Relations Review 34:3 (September 2008) 279-81. A more detailed version than the published one is also available.

Congressional Controversy Over the Federal Prohibition Bureaus Public Relations, 1922 (Research in Brief), Public Relations Review 34:3 (September 2008) 276-78.

Public Affairs Enters the US Presidents Subcabinet: Creating the First Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (1944-1953) and Subsequent Developments, Journal of Public Affairs 8:3 (August 2008) 185-94.

Déjà Vu All Over Again: Contemporary Traces of the Budget Exhibit, co-authored with Daniel W. Williams (lead author), American Review of Public Administration 38:2 (June 2008) 203-24.

Clara M. Edmunds and the Library of the United States Information Service, 1934-1948, Libraries & the Cultural Record 42:3 (2007) 213-30.

Revisiting the Dartmouth Court Decision: Why the US has Private Nonprofit Agencies Instead of Public Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Public Organization Review 7:2 (June 2007) 113-42. A more detailed version than the published one is also available.
The Astronaut and Foggy Bottom PR: Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Michael Collins, 1969-1971, Public Relations Review 33:2 (June 2007) 184-90. A more detailed version than the published one is also available.
When Politics Overwhelms Administration: Historical Proofs for Fesler’s Maxim Against State-based Federal Regions, 1934-1943, Public Voices 9:2 (2007) 25-45.

Political-Administrative Relations in State Government: A Legislative Perspective, International Journal of Public Administration 29:12 (2006) 1021-47.

The Rise and Fall of the Institute for Government Public Information Research, 1978-1981, Public Relations Review 32:2 (June 2006) 118-24.

The History of Municipal Public Reporting, International Journal of Public Administration 29:4-6 (2006) 453-76.

Empirical Experiments in Public Reporting: Reconstructing the Results of Survey Research in 1941-42, Public Administration Review 66:2 (March/April 2006) 252-62.

The US Bureau of Efficiency: Not RIP in 1933?” Public Voices 8:1 (2005) 44-60; Introduction to Symposium on Rewriting the History of Public Administration: What If..., Public Voices 8:1 (2005) 3-7.

When Government Used Publicity Against Itself: Toledos Commission of Publicity and Efficiency, 1916-1975, Public Relations Review 31:1 (March 2005) 55-61. A more detailed version than the published one is also available.
Public Reporting: A Neglected Aspect of Nonprofit Accountability, Nonprofit Management & Leadership 15:2 (Winter 2004) 169-85.

Is There Life Before the CPM [Certified Public Manager]? Pre-CPM and Related Noncredit Certificates in Public Administration, Public Administration Quarterly 28:3 (Fall 2004) 308-34.

What Does Hollywood Think Nonprofit CEOs Do All Day? Screen Depictions of NGO Management, Public Organization Review 4:2 (June 2004) 157-76.

A Public Relations Program Even Congress Could Love: Federal Information Centers, Public Relations Review 30:1 (March 2004) 61-73.

The First Federal Public Information Service, 1920-1933: At the US Bureau of Efficiency! Public Relations Review 29:4 (November 2003) 415-25.

Is There Anything New Under the Sun? Herbert Simons Contributions in the 1930s to Performance Measurement and Public Reporting of Performance Results, Public Voices 6:2-3 (2003) 73-82.

Management History as Told by Popular Culture: The Screen Image of the Efficiency Expert, Management Decision 40:9 (2002) 881-94.

Noncredit Certificates in Nonprofit Management: An Exploratory Study, Public Administration & Management 7:3 (2002) 188-210.

Intersectoral Differences in Public Affairs: The Duty of Public Reporting in Public Administration, Journal of Public Affairs 2:2 (May 2002) 33-43.

The Federal Public Relations Administration: Historys Near Miss, Public Relations Review 28:1 (February 2002) 87-98.

Bureaucracy in the Hebrew Bible: A Neglected Source of Public Administration History, Public Voices 5:1-2 (2002) 79-88.

Strange But True Tales From Hollywood: The Bureaucrat as Movie Hero, co-authored with Susan C Paddock, Public Administration & Management 6:4 (2001) 166-94.

The Image of the Government Flack: Movie Depictions of Public Relations in Public Administration, Public Relations Review 27:3 (Fall 2001) 297-315.

Looking at the Politics-Administration Dichotomy from the Other Direction: Participant Observation by a State Senator, International Journal of Public Administration 24:4 (April 2001) 363-84.

The Agency Spokesperson: Connecting Public Administration and the Media, Public Administration Quarterly 25:1 (Spring 2001) 101-30.

Public Information in Government Organizations: A Review and Curriculum Outline of External Relations in Public Administration, Public Administration & Management 5:4 (2000) 183-214.

Bureaucrat Bashing in the Galactic Senate: George Lucas and Public Administration, Public Voices 4:2 (2000) 23-30.

Governing the Holy Land: Public Administration in Ottoman Palestine, 1516-1918, Digest of Middle East Studies 9:1 (Summer 2000) 1-25.

When Congress Tried to Cut Pentagon Public Relations: A Lesson from History, Public Relations Review 26:2 (Summer 2000) 131-54.

A Jewish ‘March of Dimes’? Organization Theory and the Future of Jewish Community Relations Councils, Jewish Political Studies Review 12:1-2 (Spring 2000) 3-19.

Reporters and Bureaucrats: Public Relations Counter-Strategies by Public Administrators in an Era of Media Disinterest in Government, Public Relations Review 25:4 (Winter 1999) 451-63.

Public Relations Is Public Administration, The Public Manager 27:4 (Winter 1998-99) 49-52.

Public Relations in Public Administration: A Disappearing Act in Public Administration Education, Public Relations Review 24:4 (Winter 1998) 509-20.

President Nixon Sees a Cover Up: Public Relations in Federal Agencies, Public Relations Review 23:4 (Winter 1997) 301-25.

Tradition be Damned! The Army Corps of Engineers is Changing, co-authored with Daniel Mazmanian (lead author), Public Administration Review 35:2 (March-April 1975) 166-72.

Chapters and Other Writings

The Practice of Public Affairs in Public Administration,” in Phil Harris and Craig S. Fleisher (eds.), SAGE Handbook of International Corporate and Public Affairs (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, forthcoming January 2017), chapter 13.

Government Public Relations in Canada and the United States,” co-authored with Fraser Likely and Jean Valin. In Tom Watson (ed.), North American Perspectives on the Development of Public Relations (Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming September 2016), chap. 5. Series on National Perspectives on the Development of Public Relations: Other Voices.

Encyclopedia entries: Public Relations in Public Administration,” Accountability: Public Reporting, Nonprofit Organizations: Public Relations, and Media and Bureaucracy in the U.S. In Encyclopedia of Public Administration and Public Policy, 3rd ed. (New York: Taylor & Francis, 2016).

Working for Goodwill: Journalist Lowell Mellett, Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History (quarterly of the Indiana Historical Society) 27:4 (Fall 2015) 46-55. A more detailed version than the published one is also available online.

What Might Have Been: Benjamin Marsh and the Early History of American Urban Planning, Innovative Cities lecture series, School of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, March 15, 2015:

“E-Government and Public Relations: It’s the Message, Not the Medium,” in Aroon Manoharan (ed.), E-Government and Websites: A Public Solutions Handbook (New York: Routledge, 2015), chapter 1.

Government is Different: A History of Public Relations in American Public Administration,” in Burton St. John III, Margot Opdycke Lamme and Jacquie L'Etang (eds.), Pathways to Public Relations: Histories of Practice and Profession (London: Routledge, 2014), chapter 7.

“Propaganda for War,” in Nancy Snow (ed.), Propaganda and American Democracy (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2014), chapter 4.

“Public Reporting Builds Agency Accountability,” PA Times (publication of the American Society for Public Administration) 36:1 (January/February/March 2013) 2-3. Winner of the George Frederickson Award from the American Society for Public Administration for best article in PA Times in 2013.

“US Administrative History: Golem Government,” in B. Guy Peters and Jon Pierre (eds.), SAGE Handbook of Public Administration, 2nd ed. (London: Sage, 2012), chapter 13.

Advice for an Academic Career, PA Times 33:5 (October 2010) 33.

“The Nine Commandments of Social Media in Public Administration: A Dual-Generation Perspective,” co-authored with Ethan Lee Elser, PA Times 33:3 (Summer 2010) 3.

Book review: Johann N. Neem, Creating a Nation of Joiners: Democracy and Civil Society in Early National Massachusetts (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008). In Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 38:4 (August 2009) 721-24.

Book review essay: Looking for Meaning in the Alabama Lectures’ Book Series: An Epitaph for an Old Friend of Public Administration After 57 Years, Public Administration Review 69:3 (May/June 2009) 531-42. 

At the Intersection of Bureaucracy, Democracy and the Media: The Effective Agency Spokesperson, in Ali Farazmand (ed.), Bureaucracy and Administration (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2009), chapter 21. 

Media Relations and External Communications during a Disaster, in Jack Pinkowski (ed.), Disaster Management Handbook (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2008), chapter 19.

The State Legislature,” in Thomas Holbrook (ed.), Wisconsin Government and Politics, 9th ed. (Boston: McGraw-Hill Learning Solutions, 2008), chapter 8.

E-Reporting: Using Managing-for-Results Data to Strengthen Democratic Accountability, in John M. Kamensky and Albert Morales (eds.), Managing for Results 2005 (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), chapter 4. Also published as a monograph E-Reporting: Strengthening Democratic Accountability (Washington, DC: IBM Center for the Business of Government, 2004).

Selected Achievements

Congress vs. the Bureaucracy was selected by the University of Oklahoma Press from its 2011 list for its annual Rothbaum Prize for exceptional scholarship and writing on American politics and history, $3,000

Faculty Distinguished Public Service Award, UW-Milwaukee, 2009, $1,500

IBM Center for the Business of Government, research grant, 2003, $15,000

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Association, grant for travel expenses to conduct research at the Hoover Presidential Library (West Branch, IA), 2003

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, grant for travel expenses to conduct research at the Roosevelt Presidential Library (Hyde Park, NY), 2002

33rd annual Fromkin Lectureship, Golda Meir Library, UW-Milwaukee, 2002, $10,000

Receiving from Peter Watson-Boone, Director of Libraries at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

October 17, 2002: Receiving from Peter Watson-Boone, UWM Director
of Libraries, a framed poster after presenting the 33rd annual
Fromkin Lecture, on FDR
's Office of Government Reports

Occasional news and elections analyst on WITI (Channel 6) in Milwaukee:

Discussing the news with co-anchors Ted Perry and Mary Stoker Smith

A Tribute to James L. McCamy

James L. McCamy (1906-1995) was a professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and my undergraduate adviser when I was a senior (1969-1970). Jim introduced me both to the field of public administration and the topic of government public relations, the latter the subject of his dissertation and first book. The more I heard, the more interested I became. Thanks to his excellent advice, I applied to do graduate work at Syracuse Universitys Maxwell School. I earned a Ph.D. in Public Administration and wrote my dissertation on government PR (and Congressional efforts to control it). Jim was the best mentor a person could wish for. He showed me two scholarly paths that I otherwise would never had known about. For me, both subjects became lifelong interests. I am eternally indebted to him.

For those interested in government public relations, I have compiled a bibliography of his writings on that subject (in chronological order):

  • Governmental Reporting in Texas State Administration, masters thesis in political science, University of Texas-Austin, 1932, unpublished.

  • Government Publicity: Its Practice in Federal Administration (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1939).

  • Public Relations in Public Administration, in Carleton B. Joeckel (ed.), Current Issues in Library Administration: Papers Presented Before the Library Institute of the University of Chicago, August 1-12, 1938 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1939) 301-21, 383.

  • Variety in the Growth of Federal Publicity, Public Opinion Quarterly 3:2 (April 1939) 285-92.

  • Measuring Federal Publicity, Public Opinion Quarterly 3:3 (July 1939) 473-75.

  • Straw Polls and Public Administration, co-authored with Henry A. Wallace, Public Opinion Quarterly 4:2 (June 1940) 221-23.
  • "A Word to Personnel Administrators," Personnel Administration 4:5 (January 1942) 4-5.

  • Government Publications for the Citizen, with the assistance of Julia B. McCamy (New York: Columbia University Press, 1949).

  • Reply to the Discussants, in Lester Asheim (ed.), A Forum on the Public Library Inquiry: The Conference at the University of Chicago Graduate Library School, August 8-13, 1949 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1950) 191-98.

  • The Role of the Public and Congress (Chapter 14), The Administration of American Foreign Affairs (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1950).
  • Section on public opinion and administrative publicity in We Need More Personalized Administration, in Felix A. Nigro (ed.), Public Administration Readings and Documents (New York: Rinehart, 1951) 474-77.

  • Book review of J.A.R. Pimlott, Public Relations and American Democracy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1951). In American Political Science Review 45:4 (December 1951) 1193-94.
  • Public Opinion (Chapter 20), American Government (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1957). (Also Instructors Manual section for Chapter 20.)

  • Section on propaganda (Section 7 of Chapter 11), Conduct of the New Diplomacy (New York: Harper & Row, 1964).

  • Administration and Public Opinion, in Scott M. Cutlip (ed.), Public Opinion and Public Administration: A Symposium Based on Papers Presented at the 1964 National Conference on Public Administration (University [Tuscaloosa]: University of Alabama Bureau of Public Administration for the American Society for Public Administration, 1965) 3-9.
  • Book review of Donald C. Rowat (ed.), The Ombudsman, Citizens Defender (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1965). In Midwest Journal of Political Science 11:2 (May 1967) 280-82.

  • Politics and Propaganda (Chapter 8), The Quality of the Environment (New York: Free Press, 1972).

  • Government Publicity, 1972, guest lecture at the Maxwell School, Syracuse University, October 11, 1972, unpublished.

Perhaps my own writings on government public relations might be viewed as a continuation of his oeuvre, albeit in a minor key.

מרדכי לי