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New Public Administration
Degrees Prepare Students for Community Leadership

Written by Judy Tierney

Do you ever wonder who is really behind all of the laws, policies and programs that benefit our communities? While your elected officials are generally the face for the most important issues we encounter, these leaders rely on a vast army of dedicated professionals, often working behind the scenes, to coordinate, plan and support community initiatives and to deliver resources to those who need them.

Dr. Laurie Shanderson Dr. Stephanie Menefee

For students interested in a career in a nonprofit, government, community service or public service organization, NCU recently launched its Master of Public Administration (MPA) and Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) degree programs in the School of Business. Dr. John Frame and Dr. Stephanie Menefee, program leads for the MPA and DPA respectively, say the degrees can be differentiated from a business degree with a public administration specialization.

In a constantly evolving field with increasing competition, Frame emphasizes the need for professional leaders who are specifically trained to help take community organizations to the next level. “The advanced public administration degrees are designed to better position our graduates as good managers and good public servants,” he explains.

Frame cites the trend of increased government outsourcing as one area of change in public management in recent decades. More and more, governments are beginning to rely on nonprofits to support programs they can no longer manage themselves. To secure these contracts, organizations are in critical need of leaders with the enhanced skills to ensure they meet the accreditation and other government requirements.

“Even students who are already working in public administration can benefit from studying the latest theories and finetuning skills that they may not be using in their current roles.”

—Dr. Stephanie Menefee

“Even students who are already working in public administration can benefit from studying the latest theories and finetuning skills that they may not be using in their current roles,” says Menefee. “You can make yourself more valuable by going back to school and learning the theories behind practice and how practice is moving into the next phase.”

Menefee and Frame believe NCU’s one-to-one learning model – where students directly engage with faculty who all have doctoral degrees and real-world work experience – can be ideal for students who want to pursue an MPA or DPA. In fact, Menefee says it’s incredibly interesting getting to know students just as they're learning how to tailor their research and break into an area that really interests them.

Richard Valdenegro Dr. John Frame

With a broad range of faculty experiences, students can tap into the worldwide expertise of professors from virtually any area in the field. Throughout his career, Frame has held positions in local government, has researched faith-based organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and has served as a consultant for two United Nations agencies. Menefee’s resume includes roles in city and state government, higher education advocacy, nonprofit administration and teaching. Other faculty members have experience in areas including policy development and evaluation, healthcare, and criminal justice, just to name a few.

What’s even more exciting is that NCU is planning to roll out specializations for the MPA and DPA degree programs in 2019. “Our plan is to mirror the specializations that are currently offered in our School of Business, which I believe will distinguish our program from those offered at other universities,” says Frame. “If a student is interested in information technology or healthcare administration, or any number of other areas, we will be able to tailor a program that specifically meets their needs.”

“If a student is interested in information technology or healthcare administration, or any number of other areas, we will be able to tailor a program that specifically meets their needs.”

—Dr. John Frame

“Because funding is often tight in public administration organizations, professionals are sometimes expected to wear multiple hats and to take on more than their designated responsibilities,” adds Menefee. “Our specializations will enable students to dive deeper into whatever area interests them. This focus will provide them with an expertise, as well as general knowledge, to really excel in their positions.”

Whether students are new to public administration or aspiring to advance to a higher level in their current organization, NCU’s programs are designed to set them apart from others in the field.

“Employers want people who can achieve the organization’s mission and vision with the resources that are currently available,” Menefee concludes. “With our MPA and DPA degrees, graduates will be able to take their careers in any direction they want go.”