Institute Offers Expertise to Region's Governments

March 11, 2009

UT Dallas has created a new institute as a resource for governments and nonprofit agencies in North Central Texas.

The Institute of Public Affairs will offer training and technical assistance to help these organizations confront a variety of governance and operational challenges. The institute is a part of the Public Affairs program housed in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences.

 “There are more than 450 municipal and other local governments and more than 9,000 nonprofit organizations in North Central Texas.  The Institute offers a strong blend of theory and practical experience to serve these populations,” said Dr. Kimberly Aaron, director of the institute.

Aaron and Public Affairs program head Dr. Douglas Kiel are excited about making the expertise of the institute’s team available to the community. “Our mix of academics and practitioners, with local and federal government experience, allows us to offer our clients and students much-needed balance and perspective,” said Kiel.

Aaron has more than 25 years of financial and operational management experience in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. On the institute’s faculty team, she is joined by Dr. Douglas Watson, Dr. Donald Arbuckle and Ted Benavides, each with more than 30 years of practitioner experience.

The institute aligns with the community outreach component of the University’s sixth strategic initiative, “Making a Great City Even Greater” in its commitment to strengthening the surrounding region. Outreach activities will include sponsoring community forums, identifying and pursuing research topics relevant to the local community and developing individuals to become future city leaders through UT Dallas Public Affairs graduate and certificate programs and customized training.

The institute is modeled after the Vinson Institute at the University of Georgia and the School of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Representatives from both organizations serve on its advisory board.

“Running a city government or nonprofit organization is a complex process that requires balancing issues of ethics, financial management, legal compliance, strategic planning and leadership,” said Ted Benavides, retired city manager for Dallas and executive in residence at the institute. “Cities are interested in developing their people for this immense responsibility. The kinds of things we teach have real meaning to the federal and local government.”

Since receiving approval for formation from the University of Texas System Board of Regents, the institute team has delivered customized training for several organizations in north Texas.  They have also worked with the North Texas Housing Coalition on facilitating discussions with local city governments on the development of a regional housing strategy for North Central Texas.


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

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Faculty Team

The Institute of Public Affairs’ core faculty team includes:

  • Kimberly Aaron, Ph.D.
  • Donald R. Arbuckle, Ph.D.
  • Paul Battaglio, Ph.D.
  • Teodoro Benavides, MPA
  • Marie Isabelle Chevrier, Ph.D.
  • Simon M. Fass, Ph.D.
  • Jeremy L. Hall, Ph.D.
  • Wendy L. Hassett, Ph.D.
  • Douglas Kiel, Ph.D.
  • Richard K. Scotch, Ph.D.
  • Douglas Watson, Ph.D.

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