Spotlight: Syracuse University
Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs is among the oldest such institutions in the world, founded in 1924 and celebrating its 90th anniversary this fall.
At its start, Maxwell was a pioneer in public affairs education and home to the nation’s first professional degree in public administration—in essence, the original MPA. Since 1995, Maxwell’s MPA has been consistently ranked number one in America by U.S. News & World Report. The same survey ranks Maxwell top-ten in numerous important policy fields: public management administration, public finance and budgeting, nonprofit management, information technology management, environmental policy and management, public-policy analysis, and city management and urban policy.
But there is much more to Maxwell than its well-regarded MPA. The School was created with a unique interdisciplinary structure that remains at the core of Maxwell’s character today. The School is home to graduate professional degrees in both public administration and international relations; doctoral programs in public administration and the social sciences; undergraduate teaching in the social sciences; and an array of interdisciplinary research institutes, organized around a theme or specialization within public affairs and drawing on faculty and students from professional and scholarly programs. Maxwell also pursues a rich, defining interest in the nature and mechanics of democratic citizenship, evidenced in specific curricula but also influencing intellectual endeavors across the disciplines.
The innovative ways in which Maxwell mixes the analytical, theoretical, and pragmatic has a deep effect on student education. Research at Maxwell demonstrates for students the intrinsic connections between the broad, historically informed perspectives of social scientists, the analytical and prescriptive outcomes of policy work, and the crucial practical concerns of those who conduct the day-to-day work of public affairs. Maxwell students benefit from a rich exposure to the social consequences of the careers they are about to undertake.
Among the many faculty members doing important policy work at Maxwell:
Robert Bifulco specializes in education finance and policy. He is the education editor of APPAM’s Journal of Policy Analysis and Management and an editorial board member of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. He researches and writes extensively on topics such as charter and magnet schools, desegregation policies, and school and teacher performance evaluations, while also studying state budget deficits and related decision-making processes. He has been principal or co-investigator in studies of the Say Yes to Education program in Buffalo and Syracuse, New York.
Renée de Nevers
Renée de Nevers studies international security. She writes extensively on the role of private military and security companies in U.S. global activities, and on the changing norms for armed conflict created by extremism, terrorism, and asymmetric warfare. Her books include Combating Terrorism (with William C. Banks and Mitchel Wallerstein), published in 2008 by Congressional Quarterly Press; and Comrades No More: the Seeds of Change in Eastern Europe, published by the MIT Press in 2003.
Sarah Hamersma specializes in public economics, labor economics, and health economics—particularly, economic evaluation of government programs designed to improve the well-being of low-income families. She recently has studied, for example, the effects of parental Medicaid expansions and effects of Medicaid earnings limits on earnings growth among poor workers. She also studies the effects of employment subsidies, such as the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, on hiring outcomes. Her work has been funded by the Smith Richardson Foundation, the National Poverty Center, and most recently the USDA.
Sharon Kioko focuses on public budgeting, financial management practices of states and local governments, the municipal bond market, fiscal rules and limitations, and government and not-for-profit accounting. Recent publications have focused on state credit ratings and solvency, related to such issues as unfunded pension obligations and tax/expenditure limits; and have investigated the relationship between state bankruptcy laws and credit ratings and yields.
Leonard M. Lopoo
Leonard M. Lopoo is director of Maxwell’s Center for Policy Research. His research interests primarily involve the family: fertility, marriage, maternal employment, and the public policies designed to assist low-income populations. He has published in Demography, the Journal of Health Economics, theJournal of Human Resources, theJournal of Policy Analysis and Management, and theJournal of Public Economics, among many others. Lopoo is the social policy co-editor of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.
David Popp is an economist with research interests in environmental policy and the economics of technological change. His research focuses on the links between environmental policy and innovation. He is particularly interested in how environmental and energy policies shape the development of new technologies to combat climate change. His work has been published in a variety of economic and policy journals, including American Economic Review, RAND Journal of Economics, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, and Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.
Amy Ellen Schwartz
Amy Ellen Schwartz is the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Chair of Public Affairs at Maxwell. She is an internationally renowned scholar of education policy, public finance, and urban economics, and editor of the journal Education Finance and Policy. Her work on K-12 education issues examines the relationship between student performance and housing and neighborhood change; the role of schools and neighborhoods in shaping childhood obesity; the relationship between school nutrition programs and student performance; immigration and mobility in urban schools; and the efficacy of school reforms. Her research on urban economic development has included work on Business Improvement Districts, housing investment, school choice, and investment in infrastructure, among other issues in public finance.
John M. Yinger
John M. Yinger, who holds the appointment Trustee Professor of Economics and Public Administration and International Affairs, is among America’s foremost policy experts on public education finance, and on racial and ethnic discrimination in housing and mortgage markets. Books include Helping Children Left Behind: State Aid and the Pursuit of Educational Equity (MIT Press, 2004) and, with Stephen L. Ross, The Color of Credit: Mortgage Lending Discrimination, Research Methodology, and Fair-Lending Enforcement (MIT Press, 2002).
For students in the professional programs, a distinctive advantage is in the structure of the degree programs themselves. Students can earn an MPA in one year of intensive full-time study. The MPA provides a strong grounding in broadly transferable management and analytical skills, along with opportunities to tap Maxwell’s other resources to serve specific topical and/or career interests in areas such as security studies, healthcare management and policy, social policy, conflict and collaboration, and environmental policy.
The MA in International Relations (MAIR) is typically completed in only 16 months, including a global internship. The MAIR is truly interdisciplinary, combining many of the same MPA skills with study opportunities in geography, anthropology, political science, economics, and other Maxwell departments. Graduates go on to careers in fields such as foreign policy, NGO management, economic development, and public diplomacy (the last achieved through coordinated master’s degrees in IR and public relations).
Among the many institutes at Maxwell and the opportunities they provide to pursue career and policy interests, the School’s Center for Policy Research (CPR) focuses on interdisciplinary research related to public policy. Faculty members are drawn from several departments—chiefly, Economics, Public Administration, and Sociology. Emphases include education finance and policy, tax policy, health care management and finance, labor economics, family and aging studies, environmental economics, and other aspects of public finance and budgeting. CPR also houses the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion applying the best practices of marketing and science to create public health programs that are motivating and sustainable.
There are more than 7,000 alumni of Maxwell's graduate degrees in public administration, international relations, and related fields. Prepared with an education that is interdisciplinary and broadly transferable, Maxwell graduates are well represented in the public, not-for-profit, and private sectors, both domestic and around the world.
What is common to many of the positions that MPA and MAIR alumni hold is influence. The applicability of the managerial and analytical skills, combined with a strong balance between high quality scholarship and practice, creates alumni who are famous for their breadth, adaptability, savvy, and a big-picture grasp of public challenges. With these attributes, Maxwell graduates perform well in not only their first post-Maxwell position but wherever their careers lead.
In some respects, Maxwell alumni are best exemplified by the many, many who play important (but rarely publicized) roles in federal agencies, nonprofits and NGOs, think tanks and universities, private consulting firms, and state and local government. However, among the many graduates serving in high-profile leadership positions are Donna Shalala (Ph.D.), president of the University of Miami and former Secretary of Health and Human Services; John Berry (MPA) current U.S. ambassador to Australia and former director of federal Office of Personnel Management; Mark Emmert (MPA, Ph.D.), president of the NCAA and former president of University of Washington; and Sean O’Keefe (MPA), former NASA Administrator and former chancellor of Louisiana State University.
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