Dr. Francis E. Rourke was born in New Haven, Connecticut and attended Yale University, where he later taught political science. He received his Ph.d from the University of Minnesota in 1952. He served as the director of a 1961 Commission for the Expansion of Public Higher Education in Maryland and was involved with many other commissions on improving education in Maryland and at Hopkins.
Rourke joined the Hopkins faculty as a professor of political science in 1954 and taught at Hopkins until retiring in 1994. While at Hopkins, Rourke researched and taught about the United States presidency and its relationship to federal bureaucracies. He served as the chair of the Department of Political Science in 1964 and was the Bengamin H. Griswold III professor of public policy studies until his retirement. Among the numerous books on American government authored by Rourke, Secrecy and Publicity: Dilemmas of Democracy (1961), Bureaucracy, Politics and Public Policy (1969) and Bureaucracy and Foreign Policy (1972) are his most acclaimed.