SPA Hosts Kickoff Event for New Minor
September 29, 2023
UNM’s School of Public Administration (SPA) is not only celebrating the launch of an entirely new, groundbreaking program, but public service itself.
On Sept. 26, SPA welcomed the greater campus and Albuquerque community to commemorate the official launch of its newest minor: public service. You may have heard it’s the first-ever undergraduate minor in public service. It’s not only the first at UNM, but the only of its kind in the state.
“I think it’s an incredible opportunity to advance conversations around the core tenets of leadership and how to implement them for public life,” Vice President of Student Affairs Eric Scott said.
The minor was created in collaboration with The Volcker Alliance and its Next Generation Service Corps for any student, of any major, to gain values, knowledge, and skills to pursue a career in government, nonprofits, tribal governance, or public-private enterprises.
This is not a partnership easy to come by. The selection of UNM in its work with Volcker is a testament to the differences made every day in New Mexico communities. New Mexico has one of the highest totals of government employees in the country. That starts in Albuquerque, as heralded by Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, the keynote speaker for the event.
“Bringing in the Volcker Alliance and the American Society for Public Administration is going to bring the spotlight to Albuquerque and UNM. It was a great thing to have Mayor Keller here, and am happy he also saw what is ahead,” SPA Director Patria de Lancer Julnes said.
Keller embraced UNM’s focus on teaching skills related to public service, no matter the field–from health and social inequities, environmental justice and media.
“UNM is constantly setting an example for higher education. These students are leaders now and will be even better when they enter the workforce,” Keller said.
He pointed to the pipeline this minor can implement as it relates to already existing city programs, like the Mayor’s Select Internship Program. Keeping future leaders in New Mexico, to help the state they grew up in and love, is critical.
“This minor will expand and cultivate the applicant pool and keep talented students in state. We can't wait to see what students will learn in this program and what they will bring to the table,” Keller said.
It’s a huge opportunity for students aiming for any career to explore the powerful work that groups and individuals do just to help people. Many of the Lobos already enrolled attended the kickoff, excited by the SPA classes at hand.
"Over the summer I worked with the National Hispanic Cultural Center and I fell in love with the government and nonprofits. The public sector is more than just the private sector. You’re still answering your stakeholders, but your stakeholders are the public,” Freshman minoring in public service Angel Serrano said.
That’s the thing about this minor; it showcases how even one small part of public service can be absorbed and applied to numerous careers.
“I’ve been finishing up my philosophy degree and I wanted to get involved in politics. If you take the core of philosophical principles seriously that includes performing public service,” Senior Michael Peter said.
This student is enrolled in one of the SPA-centered courses, public leadership for social change. Others include nonprofit leadership and practice and leadership and ethics.
The NextGen Service Corps program is also available to all majors and provides additional opportunities and support outside of the classroom for students to build their professional skills and resumes.
News & Photos Credit: UNM Newsroom