Paul Helmke

Professor of Practice
Director, Civic Leaders Center

(812) 855-2275
Room Number:
447 and Briscoe A122

Curriculum Vitae


  • J.D., Yale University, 1973
  • B.A. (with highest honors and honors) in Political Science, Indiana University, 1970


  • Communications Law
  • Law and Public Affairs
  • Urban Problems and Solutions
  • Legal History and Public Policy: Protest and Dissent
  • Democratic Institutions and Ideals in Classical and Contemporary Greece


Paul Helmke, former president and CEO of the Brady Center/Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and three-term mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana, is a professor of practice at O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the founding director of the Civic Leaders Living-Learning Center. Helmke's professional interests include law and public policy, civic education and participation, mayoral and nonprofit leadership, urban issues, and gun control. His experience on gun control issues lands him frequent mentions and interviews in national news stories and programs.

Born in Bloomington and raised in Fort Wayne, Helmke practiced law there for more than 14 years before winning an upset victory over a two-term incumbent mayor in 1987. During the 1990s, he was appointed to Federal cabinet advisory committees dealing with violence against women and school-to-work transitions. He served as president of the U. S. Conference of Mayors during his final term in office. In 1998, Helmke won the primary to be the Republican nominee for U. S. Senate in Indiana, but lost in the general election to former Governor Evan Bayh.

Helmke is an Indiana University alum and graduated with highest distinction in 1970. As an undergrad, Helmke was student body president during an era of student protest and activism and was selected to Phi Beta Kappa. He studied law at Yale University, receiving his Juris Doctor degree in 1973, in the same class as Bill and Hillary Clinton. Helmke joined the IU faculty and O'Neill in 2013.


  • Inaugural Recipient of (2015) Leader for the Greater Good Award, O'Neill Student Choice Awards
  • Mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • President and CEO of Brady Campaign/Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence
  • President of the U. S. Conference of Mayors
  • Lawyer
  • "Jeopardy" winner, NBC, 1973

In the News

Selected Works

  • Review of Godless Democrats and Pious Republicans? Party Activists, Party Capture, and the ‘‘God Gap,’’ by Ryan L. Claassen. Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews, 45,6(October 2016)
  • Published the chapter “Seeking Common Ground: Perspective of a Gun Control Supporter” in the three-volume book Guns and Contemporary Society: The Past, Present, and Future of Firearms and Firearm Policy, Glenn H. Utter (Ed.), AC-CLIP (December 2015)
  • "Targeting gun violence," Public Administration Review, 73(4): 551-552 (2013)
  • Son of a Son of a Politician - Paul Helmke: Behind City Hall Doors, (with A. Jarosh). Lincoln, NE: Writers Club Press, iUniverse, Inc. (2002)
  • "Location theory, a growth coalition, and a regime in the development of a medium-sized city," (with M. S. Rosentraub), Urban Affairs Review, 31(4): 482-507 (1996)

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