The mission of the School of Public Administration is to advance knowledge in support of professional education for public service, through the integration of interdisciplinary research, teaching, and service, in order to address the management challenges of an increasingly complex and diverse global environment.
In pursuit of its mission, the School strives to:
I. Create a challenging learning environment marked by academic distinction where students can develop both the knowledge and skills needed to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing, complex, diverse global environment, as defined by the expectations of public and nonprofit agency leadership.
II. Enhance the knowledge and competencies of pre- and in-service students who seek professional development for effective service and leadership in all government and public sector agencies as well as with non-profit sector organizations.
III. Provide students with a firm grounding in the responsibilities, values, and ethical concerns of public service in order to better meet public and non-profit sector needs and challenges.
The School is accredited and adheres to the standards of the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation (COPRA). The standards include the following goals for student learning:
As the basis for its curriculum, the program will adopt a set of required competencies related to its mission and public service values.
The required competencies will include five domains: the ability
1) to lead and manage in public governance;
2) to participate in and contribute to the policy process;
3) to analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems and make decisions;
4) to articulate and apply a public service perspective;
5) to communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry.
To achieve competency in each of these five domains, the School specifies six hierarchical categories and 22 components of Student Learning Outcomes (SLO).
1) MPA graduates will demonstrate knowledge of
a) Political and legal institutions of governance (NASPAA 1)
b) Organizational behavior (NASPAA 1)
c) Human resource management (NASPAA 1)
d) Public budgeting and financial management (NASPAA 1)
e) Intergovernmental relations (NASPAA 1)
f) Strategic planning and strategic management (NASPAA 1)
g) Program evaluation and performance measurement (NASPAA 1 & 2)
h) Comparative and case analysis (NASPAA 3)
i) Information and network management (NASPAA 3)
2) MPA graduates will demonstrate the ability to identify
a) Policy problems (NASPAA 2)
b) Organizational challenges (NASPAA 3 & 4)
3) MPA graduates will analyze policies and programs by applying appropriate
a) Information technology and data management tools (NASPAA 3)
b) Quantitative and/or qualitative analysis methods (NASPAA 3)
c) Professional ethical standards (NASPAA 4 & 5)
d) Ethical research standards (NASPAA 4 & 5)
4) MPA graduates will appropriately and effectively apply
a) Management theory and organizational analysis (NASPAA 1 & 3)
b) Management theory and policy analysis (NASPAA 2 & 3)
5) MPA graduates will demonstrate a nuanced understanding of
a) Public, private, and non-profit sector interactions (NASPAA 4)
b) Public service values such as accountability, equity, responsibility, and diversity (NASPAA 5)
c) Challenges related to managing diversity in the global environment (NASPAA 5)
6) MPA graduates will demonstrate excellent
a) Verbal communication ability (NASPAA 4 & 5)
b) Written (expository and analytical) communication ability (NASPAA 4 & 5)
Competencies are learned through face-to-face and distance delivery courses, internships, guided studies, and capstone projects or theses. Additional learning takes place through extra-curricular and supplemental activities such as lectures, clubs, Graduate Resource Center tutoring and classes, and similar use of university and community resources.
Direct measures for each SLO component are obtained from embedded core course assessments and associated scoring conventions and from the standardized thesis or capstone project scoring matrix.
The performance target for the current three year period (2013-2015) is for 75% of students to achieve satisfactory (basic competence) or better performance on each SLO. Student performance in each required course is sampled one time per year, in either Fall or Spring semester.
Indirect information regarding achievement of the program’s learning outcomes is obtained using the following measures and methods:
1) Employment of graduates
2) Time to degree
3) Perceptions/opinions of curriculum and instruction quality as effective preparation for the knowledge, skills, responsibilities and values required for students’ employment
4) Perceptions/opinions of improvements needed
1) Enrollment data review
2) Course record review (grading patterns, enrollment, completion rates)
3) Student evaluations of courses, per university mandate
4) Annual faculty meeting devoted to learning outcomes review
5) Other faculty meeting discussions
6) Annual consultation with Advisory Board or similar community focus group
7) Tri-annual surveys of current students, alumni and employers
8) Student exit surveys each semester
9) Annual faculty performance reviews
Each Fall semester, a dedicated faculty meeting is held to review assessment data collected in the previous academic year. The faculty may elect to make immediate changes if they identify opportunities for improvement that can be implemented right away, or propose larger strategic initiatives that can be elaborated in subsequent semesters.
In addition, the SPA Curriculum Committee uses the assessment information in its on-going review and improvement of the curriculum.
Amy Wohlert, PhD, Interim Director