Public Affairs Program Gives Cities a Boost

First Students to Earn Certificates Give Courses High Marks

Aug. 29, 2008

The Dallas area will reap the benefits of the newest program offered by the public affairs program in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences.

Seventeen city employees from Plano, Garland, Richardson and Dallas represent UT Dallas’ first cohort in its “Master of Public Affairs in City Hall” program.  This inaugural group graduated Aug. 20, with each student earning a graduate certificate in local government management.

The students benefited not only from the academics, but also from the connections they made in the program.  “It was a perfect fit.  The contacts I’ve made in other agencies have been invaluable.  I met people in places where I would never typically have had contact.  Now I know where to turn as issues arise,” said Lt. Daniel Robb, a member of the program from the Richardson Police Department.

Richardson City Manager Bill Keffler, Garland City Manager Bill Dollar, Garland Mayor Ron Jones and several city leaders and staff attended the reception in support of the graduates.  UT Dallas Provost Hobson Wildenthal, Brian Berry, dean of the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences and the public affairs faculty were also on hand to congratulate the first cohort and welcome the incoming group of 14 students.

“A great university is an integral part of the community that supports it.  Programs like this one are vital two-way streets,” Berry said.

The “City Hall Cohort” began in the spring of 2006.  Students took 15 hours over the course of 18 months to earn their graduate certificates.  Many will remain in the UT Dallas public affairs program to earn master’s degrees in public affairs.

“It was comforting to know that all of our professors are or were practitioners in the real world.  This program does an excellent job of pairing academics with real-world experience and putting that information into the hands of the right people,” said Doug Deaton, a member of the program from the City of Plano.

At the reception, Public Affairs Program Head Doug Watson thanked city and university officials for their support and thanked the students for their experience, knowledge and hard work that made the program’s first session such a success.

City officials, faculty and students alike believe that the success of the first cohort bodes well for the future of the program and the cities involved.

“I’m grateful to UT Dallas for working with city leaders to create this opportunity.  As students we undoubtedly benefited from the experience, but it is the citizens who will benefit the most from this program,” said Deaton.


Media Contacts:  Audrey Glickert, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4320, audrey.glickert@utdallas.edu
and the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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From left (foreground): Garland Mayor Ron Jones and City Manager Bill Dollar present Felisa Conner with her graduate certificate in local government management. Conner is a member of the first “Master of Public Affairs in City Hall” cohort.

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