The Center for the Study of Local Government was inaugurated at St. John's University in 1967 under the direction of Dr. Edward L. Henry, chairman of the Department of Government and mayor of St. Cloud, as a research project serving micro-city officials, townspeople, and Middle America. It had two objectives: to make medium-sized cities interested in their own future, based on systematic research of their present personality, and to enlist the help of private and public colleges throughout the State of Minnesota to cooperate in that growth with governmental units.
An $182,000 Ford Foundation grant in 1967 in support of this project was followed by $10,000 for Mankato State College in 1969 from the Ford Foundation grant to enlist the help of graduate students in doing local community research. A survey of citizens' attitudes in twelve micro-cities was conducted by instructors in sociology from St. John's, Concordia, and Bemidji State College. Other directed studies included a research inventory of city governments in Minnesota, an investigation of community leadership in St. Cloud, a series of case studies on the dynamics of policy-making in city governments, and personal interviews with city councilmen and mayors of twelve micro-cities. The Center aided the State Crime Commission of Minnesota in conducting a regional survey of law enforcement facilities and of personnel and communications systems in a sixteen-county area of Central Minnesota. Several "spot" conferences were held around the state, discussing local affairs in the micro-cities, problems and results of attitudinal surveys. Publications included a series of lectures delivered on campus by political scientists, government officials, and mayors under the title Metropolis, 1968... Another series of guest lectures on Church and Community: Non-Metropolitan America in Transition was published jointly by the Center for the Study of Local Government and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), Washington, D.C. The Center was named funding agent for a grant of $104,000 from the Minnesota Crime Commission to establish a multi-purpose Rural Crime and Justice Institute. It also received $7,000 from the State Department of Aeronautics to complete "A Study of the Usage and Significance of the Airport in Six Small Minnesota Communities." With the Minnesota Department of Local and Urban Affairs, "A Study of Regional and Governmental Relations in Minnesota" was completed.
Following the original Ford Foundation seed money, the Louis W. and Maud Hill Family Foundation broke precedent and awarded $60,000 to accomplish the objective of the Center as a catalyst in establishing other research centers at colleges around the state. The Minnesota Higher Education Coordinating Commission awarded the Center an $11,000 grant to sponsor a series of "Community Analysis Forums" in the twelve micro-cities and to finance a delivery system for data being researched. The Center also received $9,000 from the Minnesota State Department of Local and Urban Affairs and $10,000 from the State Department of Planning and the State Department of Economic Development. The Center's analysis of "Future Power Needs in Minnesota" formed the focus of a statewide conference at the University of Minnesota.
The Ford Foundation in June, 1970, made a renewal grant of $130,000 to cover a similar three-year period. When Dr. Edward Henry took a leave of absence from St. John's in 1972 to serve as president of St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, Indiana, his successor as director, Dr. Dennis Kleinsasser, continued programs of training local government officials, studying growth patterns in the region, conducting surveys on cities' use of federal community development money, and taking weekly opinion polls for the St. Cloud Times. This research unit's name was changed to the Center for Human and Community Development, was moved to the Mall Center of St. John's in St. Cloud, and then returned to Collegeville. For eleven years the annual budget ranged from $200,000 to $300,000, obtained from public and private grants and contacts. Students and faculty members had an opportunity to work in the Center's research and training programs. St. John's supplied office space and covered operating deficits until the necessity to balance the university's budget terminated the Center in 1979.
(Excerpted from Worship and Work, Epilogue, p. 394-396)
Edward L. Henry was the director of the Center from 1967-1972. Dennis Kleinsasser was the director from 1972-1979.