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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Eller school could pair with political science

    A new development may take an Eller school from phased out to amped up.

    The Strategic Planning and Budget Committee has recommended the School of Public Administration and Policy move forward with the political science department toward a full proposal to create a new School of Government and Public Affairs.

    In a White Paper proposal submitted Oct. 13, Dean Paul Portney of the Eller College of Management called SPAP “”a poor fit”” for the college, and suggested the program be phased out and its curriculum spread out among the college.

    Now SPAP is trying to find its good fit with the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

    “”This has happened extraordinarily fast, and it’s been very difficult,”” said Roger Hartley, interim director of SPAP. “”Our faculty is extremely excited about this.””

    The new school would allow SPAP and political science to keep their offered majors, and also possibly create new courses that fit both departments’ needs.

    Political science and SPAP officials are looking at overlapping curricula between the two departments to determine ways for the different programs to enhance each other, Hartley explained.

    The new school would house about 1,200 undergraduates, two Ph.D. programs and a master’s program, combining a political science program that is already the second largest undergraduate major at the UA with an SPAP program that is ranked 36th nationally by U.S. News and World Report.

    The joining of the two programs into SGPA would give SPAP an open visibility the school has never before enjoyed, as they climb out of the Eller shadow and into their own spotlight, Hartley said.

    Many SPAP students have found the school by accident and happenstance. Hartley hopes to change this by taking SPAP’s high ranking and turning it into positive outreach within the new school, he said.

    “”We’ve always offered great programs, but some would argue that we’ve been hidden in the business college,”” Hartley said. “”It’s hard to find public sector stuff when it’s hidden in a business college.””

    SPAP is not alone in its lofty goals within SGPA, as several other colleges around the nation – such as the University of Georgia and the University of Virginia – have followed the same formula with success, Hartley added.

    “”It will be sad to leave Eller, because we’ve been a part of Eller since before Eller College was even Eller,”” he said. “”But there’s a huge need for this school right now.””

    As evidenced by the example of the election of Barack Obama as president, more young people are interested in public service than have been since the 1960s, when Robert and John F. Kennedy inspired and engaged young people, Hartley said.

    With more and more students coming into the UA each year, the new school will house an abundance of students interested in policy and public service. While these two factors are colliding to create a perfect storm of public service, SGPA will be rising into prominence just in time to catch the wave of the future leaders of public administration and policy, he said.

    People currently in public service employment are “”freaking out”” because their leaders are retiring, and they do not know where their replacements will come from, Hartley said.

    “”Lots of people are retiring from the public service world, and the jobs are opening up like crazy,”” he said. “”A school like ours is going to fill that void.””

    Budget results related to such factors as loss of administrators from joining two departments into one unit will depend on what Shelton and Hay are looking for in terms of outcome, Hartley said.

    SGPA may have one director and division directors over existing departments. If Shelton and Hay are looking for expansive cost saving, two department chairs may be consolidated into one, and division directors may be paid less than what department chairs usually earn, Hartley said.

    While the possibility exists for the elimination of staff, creating a new school the size of SGPA may require retaining more staff than is usually needed for most schools, he added.

    “”We’re worried about losing staff,”” Harley said. “”We really don’t want to lose staff.””

    While Hartley and fellow officials examine ways to turn SGPA from an idea to an actuality, they realize that budget issues may force the new school’s hand when considering administration and staff eliminations, he said.

    “”You may need the existing (staff) that you have just to keep things running as (the school) expands,”” Hartley said. “”So we’re hopeful that we won’t lose people, but we’re also aware of the budget issues we’re all facing too.””

    Although some details are expressly spelled out in SGPA’s White Paper and proposal recommendation, any forward movement toward the school’s formation or the completion of a full proposal must first be approved by President Robert Shelton and Provost Meredith Hay, which has not yet happened.

    If SGPA submits its five-page full proposal to the Faculty Senate in December, the senate will judge the merits of the potential new school’s ideas and proposal. The buck would then be passed to Shelton and Hay, who would accept, reject or modify SGPA’s final proposal.

    “”There’s certainly more we’ll learn as soon as we hear from the president and provost,”” Hartley said. “”We really want to see this happen, and I hope that it does.””

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