On Campus with the Kansas MPA Program

This new feature stems from the positive feedback that ELGL has received on the blog feature, A Passion for Public Service, where Rafael Baptista is chronicling his decision-making process in choosing the right graduate school. In the “On Campus” feature, ELGL will highlight graduate programs focusing on public administration or public policy.

Special thanks for those ELGL members who have reached out to their respective graduate schools and encouraged their participation. Today’s featured program is the University of Kansas MPA which was contacted with the help of ELGL member Ashley Graff. If you think we might have missed your graduate school, please contact Megan Messmer, ELGL project manager, at oregonelgl@gmail.com.

It seems appropriate that our feature begins with the University of Kansas. The influence on Oregon local government by Kansas alums can be seen across the state from Tualatin city manager Sherilyn Lombos to Andy Anderson, former city manager of Bend and Medford.

We give you a quick introduction to the Kansas program by introducing you to the current student: KU 2011-2013 Student Flier and KU 2012-2014 Student Flier.

10 Questions with Raymond J. Hummert, Academic Advisor/External Affairs Director 

2014 with John and Quinn

Three facts we need to know about the program:

  • Ranked #1 nationally among public affairs programs in city management and urban policy by US News and World Report.
  • Two year program:  First year students complete all of the their academic work during this year on-campus; and in the second year, students have full time jobs in what we call the Intern Year.
  • Considered a leader nationally in competency based MPA education.  In the MPA program at the KU,  we have focused attention on outcomes in two ways that are unique. First, we intend the portfolio project and our competencies matrix to primarily serve students as a self-assessment and professional development tool. Second, we envision the portfolio and competencies rubric to serve MPA students while in school and as their careers develop. Please see  http://www.kupa.ku.edu/programs/mpa/PortfolioGuide-MPA-2009-06-09.pdf

Examples of alumni working in local government (name and position). Any Oregon practitioners?

  • Mr. Christopher (Chris) C. Eppley, City Manager, City of Keizer, Keizer OR Phone (503) 390-3700 Fax (503) 393-9437 Email eppleyc@keizer.org
  • Ms. Sherilyn Lombos, City Manager, City of Tualatin OR, Phone (503) 691-3010 Fax (503) 692-5421 Email slombos@ci.tualatin.or.us
  • Mrs. Jeanna Troha, Assistant City Manager, City of Wilsonville OR,  Phone (503) 570-1520 Fax (503) 570-1126 Email troha@ci.wilsonville.or.us
  • Mr. Bernard R. Seeger, Finance and Management Services Director, City of Gresham OR, Phone (503) 661-3000 Fax (503) 665-4553 Email bernard.seeger@greshamoregon.gov
  • Mr. Harold (Andy) A. Anderson, former City Manager Bend and Medford OR, Email hrldndrsn@yahoo.com (541) 312-4164, 541-350-4779 (mobile), 60808 Scotts Bluff Pl Bend, OR 97702-2981
  • Mr. Benjamin (Ben) W. Bryant, Management Analyst, City of Tualatin OR, Phone (503) 692-2000 Fax (503) 692-5421 Email bbryant@ci.tualatin.or.us
  • Ms. Sara T. Singer, Deputy City Manager, City of Tualatin OR,  Phone (503) 691-3065 Fax (503) 692-5421 Email ssinger@ci.tualatin.or.us

Biggest challenge for those entering the program.

The KU MPA program is a rigorous graduate level social science program which means significant analytical/critical reading and writing which must be completed in one year while on-campus. 

Give three tips on finding the right graduate school.

  • Determine as best as one can, the field in which the student wants to study
  • Contact the school and alumni of the program to determine if the program meets their expectations on the field in which they want to study
  • Visit the school if possible and meet current students and faculty

What would alumni describe as the most difficult part of the program?

The summer semester when the student is transiting to Lawrence, starting their part-time internship and beginning the intensive graduate level course work. 

Do you recommend prospective students gain a couple of years of work experience before going to graduate school?

Although some students have work experience before entering the program, it is not necessary.  A commitment to public service is neccessary. Our admission criteria for students seeking the local government option are: demonstrated leadership experience; commitment to public service values; and evidence of ability to do the academic work.

ELGL hosts monthly forums, previous speakers include Gov. Gregoire, Oregon Treasure Ted Wheeler, and Bob Moore, and Bob’s Red Mill. Provide us a few recommendations, regardless of location, on who we should invite to speak at future forums.

Any of the alumni listed above and John Nalbandian, faculty School of Public Affairs and Administration, University of Kansas and former Mayor for City of Lawrence, KS, John addressed the Oregon league of municipalities in a plenary session at their annual meeting a few years ago.  Please see www.goodlocalgovernment.org  nalband@ku.edu. 

In your opinion, what level of government is the most difficult to find employment in?

They all have special challenges.  The key is being prepared for the opportunities that present themselves. 

Name two skills that entering students are most often lacking.

  • Writing skills
  • Working in teams where mutual accountability is required 
  • Based on their own assessment after completing their degree, students say they overestimate their skill at diversity management

What would students say is the most challenging class?

Quantitative Methods

General information:

  • Full-time or part-time program:  I have been discussing the full time program.  We also have a part time program for mid-career students which is probably similar to what you have at Portland state.
  • Number of students enrolled each year in full time local government intern option: 12 to 15
  • In state vs. out-of-state:  2 to 4 in-state; 10 to 11 out-state
  • Online classes offered:  None on a regular basis
  • Contact person for prospective students:  Ray Hummert, rhummert@ku.edu

2013 and 2014 Meet in Phoenix 047KU students meeting during ICMA Conference in 2012.