University News

Public policy department remembers the late ‘Pete’ Andrews

The emeritus professor, former faculty chair and leading scholar on environmental policy died at age 79.

The emeritus professor leaves behind almost sixty years of service to Carolina. (submitted photo)
The emeritus professor leaves behind almost sixty years of service to Carolina. (submitted photo)

On May 5, the College of Arts and Sciences’ public policy department lost esteemed colleague Professor Emeritus Richard N. L. “Pete” Andrews. The inaugural Thomas Willis Lambeth Distinguished Chair in Public Policy (2004-09), Andrews served as public policy department chair (2006-11) and faculty chair (1997-2000).

Andrews first came to UNC–Chapel Hill after graduating from Yale University in 1966. He became a double Tar Heel, earning a master’s degree and a doctorate in city and regional planning. For nine years, he was on the faculty of the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources. He also worked as budget examiner in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal. He returned to Carolina as a faculty member in 1981.

A pillar of the University and leading scholar on environmental policy, Andrews embodied the interdisciplinarity at the root of public policy as an academic endeavor, committed to tackling public problems — especially environmental challenges — with a variety of methods over the course of a distinguished career. He was a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Public Administration.

Even after taking emeritus status in 2015, Andrews revised and updated his classic account of U.S. environmental policy, “Managing the Environment, Managing Ourselves: A History of American Environmental Policy” (Yale University Press, 1999). Andrews produced updated editions in 2006 and in 2020, ensuring that it remains the definitive scholarly work on the historical development of U.S. environmental policy and its relevance for the present.

As faculty chair, he championed the implementation of the faculty’s recommendations on improving UNC’s intellectual climate, and the creation of a priorities and budget committee to engage faculty, staff and students as well as administrators in deliberations over budget priorities. He was an effective voice for the faculty both internally and publicly in the University’s transition to a more strongly need-based tuition and financial aid policy, and in persuading the General Assembly to increase financial support for graduate students.

Andrews was critical in the growth of the public policy department. As department chair, he led the department’s growth from roughly 100 to over 250 undergraduate majors, and from five to 14 faculty members, expansion that continued after the momentum that Andrews established.

In 2015, Andrews was named to the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, an honor bestowed by the governor of North Carolina for a record of exceptional public service to the people of the state.

“Pete was a mentor to the people he came in contact with—at every level,” says Gail Corrado, an emerita lecturer in the department who graduated with a doctorate in 2003. “Pete listened to everyone’s ideas and tried always to help get things done that had a hope of being something that would make the world just a smidgen better. He was a real mensch.”

Andrews’ legacy lives on at Carolina in many ways, including through the Richard N. L. (Pete) Andrews Environmental Policy Fund. The Andrews Fellowship goes annually to a rising senior major in public policy, environmental studies or environmental sciences engaged in research and/or service on solutions to local, state, national and/or global environmental policy challenges.

Read more about Andrews and his work.