PA Prof Wins Best Article Award

Meghna Sabharwal, assistant professor of public affairs at UT Dallas, won the best paper award for an article she co-authored with Iris Geva-May of Simon Frasier University in the Journal of Public Affairs Education (JPAE). The article, entitled "Advancing Underrepresented Populations in the Public Sector: Approaches and Practices in the Instructional Pipeline," was singled out for the award by the JPAE Editorial Board.

As a lead author, Sabharwal investigated the role of recruitment, enrollment and retention, and training and development of students from underrepresented populations in public affairs and related programs in the United States. The study addressed the following question: What do schools of public administration, public affairs, public policy, public service, and public management do to prepare their students from among underrepresented populations to acquire the skills to advance in public service?

In order to answer this question the authors conducted a survey of academic heads of U.S. schools accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). The survey focused on four key areas: academic support, financial support, recruitment strategies, and training and development.

The findings indicate that a majority (63%) of public affairs and related programs have less than 34% of their student body from underrepresented populations. Their key finding indicates that programs with fewer students from underrepresented groups also employ fewer faculty members from these groups.

The results of this study are important given that programs of public administration and public affairs in the United States shoulder the responsibility to train future public employees and managers.

With the changing demographics of the nation, it is important for schools of public affairs in the United States to identify the academic, financial, curriculum, and training needs to attract, retain, and graduate students from especially underserved populations. To further ensure that minority students graduate, several strategies can be employed: (a) ensuring faculty mentoring of minority students, (b) addressing shortcomings in basic skills, (c) providing internships, and (d) offering financial assistance.

To read the entire study, click on the citation below:

Sabharwal, Meghna and Iris Geva-May. 2013. "Advancing Underrepresented Populations in the Public Sector: Approaches and practices in the Instructional Pipeline." Journal of Public Affairs Education 19(4), 657-679.