The Fels Institute of Government is the University of Pennsylvania’s graduate program in public policy and public management. Its practical approach to public management education, its Ivy League pedigree and its relatively small size make it one of the nation's leading boutique programs in public affairs. The Institute was founded in 1937 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Samuel Simeon Fels of the Fels Naptha Soap Company in response to a wave of corruption and mismanagement in Pennsylvania government. Originally established for the purpose of training local government officials, over time Fels broadened its mission; it now prepares its students for public leadership positions in city, state, and Federal agencies, elective politics, nonprofit organizations, and private firms with close connections to the public sector. Its 2,000 living alumni work in leadership roles across the US and around the world. As of August, 2008 the Executive Director of the Fels Institute is David Thornburgh, a long-time civic and business leader in the Philadelphia region and son of Attorney General and former Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh.
Fels is housed in the charming former Samuel Fels residence on the west end of the University of Pennsylvania’s campus, located in the University City area of Philadelphia. The University City neighborhood is compact and walkable. It features world-renowned centers for education, health, and technology. As one of the most diverse areas in Philadelphia, University City has a wide range of multicultural restaurants, cafes, and shopping choices.