For Samuel Haymen ’60, the declining prestige of federal civil service employment has long been a concern.

With a $25 million gift, Haymen took action and launched the Partnership for Public Service, a Washington, D.C.,-based nonprofit organization aiming to revitalize government service.

The project is Yale-influenced — board members include Yale President Richard Levin and Yale Corporation fellow David Gergen ’63, while Max Stier ’87 serves as the organization’s executive director and chief executive officer.

The government is facing an employment shortage due to the loss of federal employees to private and nonprofit organizations and the pending retirements of a substantial portion of the federal work force, according to a report issued this April by the U.S. General Accounting Office. Fifty-three percent of the work force will be eligible for retirement by 2004, including many of the most experienced employees.

The partnership seeks to lead campaigns that will return prestige to federal employment through education, research and legislative reform that will allow the government to compete with the private sector for the best employees, Haymen said.

“Our research demonstrates that by and large college graduates simply don’t know about the opportunities that are available in federal government,” Stier said. “Part of the partnership’s mission is to share those opportunities with students.”

Haymen said the organization was not formed in response to the events of Sept. 11. In fact, the attacks postponed the original Sept. 11 launch to Oct. 23.

Haymen and Stier both said that the terrorist attacks have demonstrated to Americans the importance of strong government agencies.

Following his graduation from Harvard Law School in 1963, Haymen worked as an assistant district attorney in the U.S. Justice Department, an experience he said gave him a lasting interest in government service.

“I happen to believe that our single most critical national issue today relates to the state of our government service and the increasing inability of the government to attract and retain a sufficient number of the brightest and best,” Haymen said.

History professor Robin Winks, author of “Cloak and Gown,” a book about the CIA and Yale, said he thinks lucrative Wall Street jobs pulled students away from entering government service but that historical trends played a key role.

“There was a general decline in patriotism and [an increasing] distrust in the government as a result of the war in Vietnam,” Winks said.

Haymen, who referred to himself as an active Yale alumnus and is listed as one of Yale’s top donors, said that during his college years, government service was a more prevalent way of making a difference and that community service has since taken the forefront. Still, he believes the two are connected.

“I was very interested to see what Yale has done to further community service activities in New Haven, and that I think is related to federal government service,” Haymen said. “President Levin has been interested [in revitalizing federal service] for some time, and we are delighted to have him on our board.”

Levin said his role involved giving informal advice. He said that having a number of university presidents on the board helps the project advertise the support of the academic community.

“I have spoken often about the importance of public service at all levels,” Levin said. “Yale has a long tradition of providing leadership in public life, and this generation should pick up its share of that important burden.”

Joining Levin on the board of governors are fellow university presidents from Stanford, Cornell, the University of Pennsylvania, Michigan State and Rice.

Former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley and former presidential candidate Elizabeth Dole also serve on the board, along with current Sens. Fred Thompson, Richard Durbin, George Voinovich and Joseph Lieberman ’64 LAW ’67.

Haymen is the chairman of the board for GAF Corporation, the largest roofing manufacturing company in the United States.