Master of Public Administration Student Placements and Testimonials
If you would like to be included on this page, please send your information to Mark McBeth.
The Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree at Idaho State University has been in existence since the mid-1970s. The MPA is a professional degree geared toward individuals who are either working as public administrators or have public administration as a career goal. Since the mid to late 1990s, the MPA program has grown significantly in both the number of graduates and course offerings. Many new classes have been added to the curriculum, including public administration ethics, grantwriting, public administration research, state and local administration, and program assessment.
In 1995, Dr. Mark McBeth was hired as MPA director. He currently teaches core MPA courses such as public policy analysis, public personnel administration, organizational theory, and bureaucratic theory. In the MPA program, the coursework is grounded in the major theories and concepts of the discipline of public administration. Students will read cutting edge books and articles in the field and have many opportunities to sharpen their writing and analytical skills. Students will also tackle a wide variety of decision making cases that encourage them to see the distinctive role of an administrator in a democratic form of government.
Our graduates go on to a wide variety of administrative careers. Most end up in managerial positions working for a government or non-profit agencies, but others use their skills and unique knowledge in the private sector. This page will provide graduate testimonials and information about why students selected the Political Science MPA program at Idaho State University. We hope the graduate testimonials provide some insight into the recent history of our program.
Brad Cramer, MPA 2007
“I entered the MPA program with a different background than most. My undergraduate work was in international politics and I wanted to be involved with world affairs in my career. Towards the end of my program I enrolled in the MPA public policy analysis course. Taking that class was like finally finding a tool that could be used to make sense of the mess that is politics. It convinced me that I needed the MPA degree if only for its level of practicality and sensibility. During my time in the program, though, I took interest in city planning as it related to my background in landscape architecture.
I really enjoyed the program. I found the case study approach to be very helpful and I still use the methods in my current job. I also felt the professors truly had the students’ interests as their first priority. I felt they were genuinely concerned about me. Because the program is relatively small, many of my classes were with the same students. It was very helpful to talk to them about job hunting, where they were in the program, and about challenging assignments.
Within a month of graduation I had my first job as the Assistant Planning Director for the City of
Lynette Sampson, MPA, 2006
“When I started the MPA Program, I knew virtually nothing about what it entailed. Two years after I completed by Bachelors at another institution, I asked two former professors about the best decision for a graduate program, a Master of Arts in Political Science or an MPA. Both recommended the MPA because of the simple purpose of employability upon completion. Thus, I entered the MPA with only that bit of information.
Shortly after the first few class periods, I discovered I really enjoyed the entire curriculum offered in the program. One of the best points of the program is the availability of the professors. All the instructors in the program show a genuine interest in both the material and students. Although my reasons for entering the program were not great, I so loved the program that I intend to pursue a Doctorate degree in Political Science with an emphasis in Public Administration.” Lynette Sampson
Sarah Cripe (Goedde), MPA, 2006
“Upon entering the MPA program my goal was to increase my marketability. I had graduated with a BS in Political Science which I thought was interesting to study, but I had no desire to be a political scientist or run for office. This severely limited my options for employment within the career field. I immensely enjoyed taking classes in the MPA program as an undergraduate and decided to enroll in the graduate program.
Some of my best memories of the program include the way that the teachers and students interacted. The classrooms were always full of people who were able to debate and articulate. This made some of the most challenging classes easier to comprehend. I loved how welcoming the professors were to questions and how supportive they were for their students.
I’m currently employed as the Planner for the City of Mountain Home. I am the first person to hold this position. I am qualified for this job because of my educational background in the MPA program. The case studies were immensely helpful in my interview process, along with the constant drilling of what and who a public servant is responsible to, and how often this conflicts.” Sarah Cripe
Ryan Fowler, MPA, 2006
“When I entered the MPA program I didn’t have a plan. I had graduated with my degree in American Studies and wanted something more before I threw myself on the mercies of the professional work force. After much research, I found the Masters in Public Administration. This program seemed to be a good mix of my personal interest and real world preparation. It turned out to be more than I expected.
The classes offered dealt with real world situations. Through the use of case studies we were able to exercise the tools that we were taught by the professors in the department. This allowed us to envision how we would use these tools in our future jobs. I gained an immense amount of knowledge from Idaho State Universities MPA program, but perhaps the most important thing I took away were lasting relationships with people invested in the future.
I am currently working at
“My goals were to gain exposure to nonprofit management theory and learn from a diverse group of students from all walks of life regarding their experiences and perspectives about public administration. My objective entering the program was to earn a degree that would prepare me to work in the not-for-profit world. My ultimate goal regarding this degree was to work in helping develop indigent populations in my home country.
My best memories and what I miss the most about the MPA program are those deep conversations that helped us as students challenge our belief system. These conversations and discussions helped me define and practice democracy, human rights, sustainable land and resource planning issues. I miss having those moments of enlightenment while discovering how and why policies are and have been made. A great memory and testimony of good leadership skills were the open door policy, accessibility, responsiveness and support of our professors while and after being in school.
I am currently working in a small resort community in the west ─
Many of the tasks I undertake through my jobs are related to program development and coordination. As such, I have to constantly plan, implement, evaluate and report. In addition, financial management is an important part of my job as program director. I think in the past while reporting and enhancing programs, in the present while getting tasks done and in the future while planning. All of these tasks relate to the curriculum followed by the MPA program.
I have to manage employees and interact with many colleagues within each agency and within the community. I cannot think of my program as an island, but as a piece in the bigger puzzle. Working with others and building coalitions is a necessity in my position. In working with others, the politics of small town, group think and competing for dollars can make the daily routine challenging. Theory on leadership, motivation, organizational culture and organizational structure from which we review at large in the classroom, provide a solid background for setting expectations, understanding of the reality and performing.
The MPA Program validated to me that I am accountable to not only my direct superior. In my jobs I feel accountable to my clients, my team, the board members of the agencies I work for, the community in general, my program volunteers, donors, and my colleagues from partnering agencies.” Gina Garcia
Heidi Harold, MPA, 2006
“I entered the MPA program with the hopes of rehabilitate myself from the evils I experienced while working in the corporate world. I began the MPA program at ISU with the intentions of gaining skills and knowledge because I aspired to work for a public agency or organization.
At first I thought that I would like to work for a private nonprofit organization. The MPA program provided me with numerous opportunities to interact with many local nonprofits. The experience I gained in my internship allowed me to learn that I wasn’t really as interested in traditional nonprofit organizations as I first thought I was. The instructors and courses helped me to find what I wanted in a career. The end decision was for me to work in higher education. Throughout the entire program I felt challenged to excel academically. I also felt supported by the faculty in my academic, service, and career endeavors.
I now work for
Rory Olsen, MPA, 2006
“Upon entering the Idaho State University MPA program, I was working as a regional training manager for Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training. Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training is the state agency that certifies, trains, and maintains standards for all peace officers within the state. I entered the MPA program, because I wanted to learn how to become a more efficient and effective public administrator. I also wanted to learn how I could better serve the citizens of
I thoroughly enjoyed my experiences in the MPA program. I learned new information that I could apply immediately within my profession on a daily basis. One of the things I enjoyed most about the program was that every class was presented with real-life examples included. In every class, we looked at case studies and used them to apply what we had learned in class. Several classes I took during the MPA program have proved to be extremely helpful in my current position. In the Administrative Law class I learned about due process and employment laws. This has helped tremendously, as I am sometimes consulted by agencies regarding personnel issues. In organizational theory class, I learned strategies and techniques for looking at organizational structure. This class is becoming helpful as we are currently seeking to reorganize our agency to streamline our functions. In public policy class I learned about stakeholder analysis, which I use on a continual basis, as we seek to set standards for the law enforcement community.
Since graduating from the Idaho State University MPA program, I'm still working as a regional training manager for Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training. There have been no opportunities for promotion yet within the agency, however I have been told by my supervisors that obtaining my MPA will greatly benefit me in future opportunities. Almost on a daily basis, I use information, techniques, and methods learned during the MPA program. I have also had the opportunity on numerous occasions to share information and ideas learned in the program. Just recently I had the opportunity to share with a city council member the concept of stakeholder analysis. The councilman was aware of stakeholders, but had never thought about, or realized how the stakeholders can and do influence each other.” Rory Olsen
Andrea Ramirez, MPA, 2006
“The Idaho State MPA program was a great experience. When I was looking into entering Graduate programs I wanted a program that would complement my experience in Higher Education, as well as a program that would challenge me to become a well rounded Administrator. I debated on many programs and after reading the objectives and learning outcomes of the MPA program, I found that it was the best suit for my future career goals.
Upon entering the programming I was nervous about joining a program with a majority of students with Political Science backgrounds but this changed once I was immersed into the program. I soon began to notice the many parallels between what I was currently doing in my position as a Graduate intern in Student Affairs and the issues being discussed concerning the role of a public manager, street bureaucrat, policy maker, project coordinator, and human resources manager. Tools such as the four frames, total quality management, market vs. polis model, and case analysis started to clarify current issues and situations I was facing or would be facing in my career.
Prior to completing my last semester in the MPA program I started a job search and was hired relatively quickly. I am currently working as the Assistant Director of Activities at a high respected private institution (
Keith Bybee, MPA, 2005
“While contemplating graduation with a degree in Political Science,
My favorite memories of the MPA learning process begin and end with Woodrow Wilson’s politics administration dichotomy. When I was first introduced to this concept, I remember thinking that it’s the job of administration to carry out the elected leader’s priorities, how can these two things (politics and administration) be separate when they certainly are not? As it turns out, this framework had a profound effect on who I was to become, and illustrates perfectly why I wanted to enter a career of public service. I began to realize that in order to help shape the world in ways I saw fit, I would have to be fair, have sound reasoning in my decision making and ultimately be beholden to the public first and politicians second. To me, a transcendent Wilsonian argument still holds true for all those interested in public administration because administration will never be devoid of politics therefore it takes someone wise and thoughtful enough to wade through the political landmines and make positive changes in public administration.
Ultimately, the MPA at ISU gave me the opportunity to gain confidence debating issues and discussing theories. As students, we were given thousands of opportunities to think, write and speak critically about issues in public administration, which has been the best development I could ever hope to receive. Many programs do a nice job of teaching theory, but ISU brings so much more to the plate. Without classroom discussions and presentations, and access to professors and peers, I would never have been able to develop skills necessary to survive outside the classroom. This practical practice is what sets ISU’s program apart from other programs nationwide.
Currently, I am a Budget and Policy Analyst with Legislative Services for the State of
Robert E. Biddle, MPA, 2005
“I am a federal employee and work for the Indian Health Service (IHS), an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. I felt that it was important for me to pursue a MPA degree to benefit me in my career. The knowledge and ideas gained from the program would help me to become a more competent and effective administrator. Eventually I wanted to be in a position where I would manage an Area Facilities Management program in the IHS or be a Facility Manager at a hospital.
I really enjoyed the different management styles and the personality testing to identify what personality traits that everyone has. It was really useful to help me understand my basic tendencies and what I may need to do at times to step out of the box and embrace a different management style for a particular situation.
I also thought very much of the ethics training. I think that ethics is paramount for someone in a high management position and position of influence. It is especially important in my position that I am consistent and fair in my dealings with the Facility Managers, Service Unit Administrators, Department Heads and Indian Tribes that I work with on a daily basis.
I really enjoyed most all of the films. Ones that stick in my mind are the Charlie Chaplin film, the Bean Field War film and the Challenger film. They were all very interesting and reinforced the topics that we discussed in class. The instructors did a great incorporating them into the text work.
I am the Director of the Facilities Management Program for the
I manage and distribute recurring funds for the maintenance and improvement of the facilities for daily operations and construction, renovation and remodel projects. In the Area Office I supervise three professional engineers and an Area Realty Officer.
The MPA really helped me by gaining administrative and management skills to help me carry out the responsibilities of my office in a responsible and ethical way. It has given me tools to use to administer the program and implement the different programs that I oversee. I think that it was the right choice for my career development.” Robert E. Biddle.
Molly Duplechian (Swanson), MPA, 2005
“Before entering the MPA program, I spent two years in AmeriCorps. During this experience I learned that I really wanted to pursue public service. I really enjoyed working in the non-profit sector. I entered the MPA program as a way to further my formal education in the public sector. My goal for entering the program was to establish a base for my career and learn the foundations behind public administration.
In terms of what I learned in the MPA program, I really enjoyed the practitioner approach to the program. I feel that some of the professors really add a great practical approach based on their personal experience in the field. There is a great knowledge base among the professors. It was a great learning opportunity for real-life approaches to public administration issues.
I am now an Associate Financial Management Analyst in the Budget Management Office for the City and
David Gertsch, MPA, 2005
“After searching for a job that I felt would suit my career interests for about a year after receiving my undergraduate degree, I admitted defeat and decided to pursue a new course of action. Previously having taken a few courses offered in the MPA program, I decided to apply and pursue training in this program. Upon entering the MPA program I had one main goal: Gain the knowledge and skills that would help me find a job that I felt would be challenging, worthwhile, and pay the bills. The MPA program helped me achieve this goal.
There are a number of important concepts and tools that I remember learning in the MPA program. Gaining a greater understanding of the vast differences between public and private organizations is well remembered. I really enjoyed the practical approach that the program takes. I didn’t just learn theories that are often hard to apply in the real world, but I gained tools that are very applicable in the work setting. The professor’s professional backgrounds and experiences added tremendously to the learning experience. Another asset of this program is that the professors are truly there for the students in the program.
I am currently working as a Community Development Specialist for Partners for Prosperity (P4P), a regional non profit. I began working at P4P as an intern in order to fulfill the internship requirement of the MPA program. Through this opportunity, I was able to gain fulltime employment with P4P when I finished the program. I facilitate and provide technical assistance for a large working group with representation from a variety of community organizations from across
Rick Parker, MPA, 2005
“Due to potential instability in my workplace, I decided that obtaining a Master Degree would greatly enhance my ability to secure a similar position elsewhere. Also, it was a personal goal to receive a Master Degree.
To earn an MPA is not an easy task, but it is very much worth the effort. Having worked as a public administrator for many years, I was very interested in what political scientists said I should or should not be doing. Well qualified instructors and excellent research material opened my mind to all aspects of public administration. The program encourages student participation. The class discussions were lively, sometimes heated, and nearly always gave more than one view of situations. I learned to think outside the box in order to perform in the most efficient and effective manner possible. I also learned the importance of relationships with stakeholder and the value of their input.
I am currently serving as the Chief Information Officer for the City of
Heather Buchanan (Herndon), MPA, 2005
“I enrolled in the MPA program right after I finished my BA, with the feeling that I needed a more focused, specialized part to my education. I picked the program based on personal interests and course content. The program required relevant classes with no filler, which was a key issue in my decision to enter the program. The MPA program more than met my expectations as I was pushed outside my regular thought pattern.
Case studies and class debates were key elements to the program for me. I found that the case studies and following debates allowed for all sides of an issue to be discussed, and highlighted that there is no one right answer. The fact that real world situations were discussed and dealt with made the program relevant. The professors I worked with were very accessible and always willing to be a sounding board or point you in the right direction. The program offered professors with real world experience, which makes a huge difference in the quality of the program.
I currently am working at AMIS. Not exactly in the arena of public administration, but it is amazing how much of the program translates to what I do. I am currently in Human Resources with a wide range of job duties that currently include EEO and AAP reporting, world wide stock administration, compensation surveys and job matching, maintenance of the HR system and tracking of world wide incentive plans. The problem solving
skills and tools I learned from the program are used in a lot of the major projects I am constantly working on.” Heather Buchanan
Autumn Wilburn, MPA, 2005
“During the 2002 Election cycle I worked on two Democratic campaigns in
The best part of the MPA program for me was the people I met - professors and fellow students. We were all there because we wanted to help people in some way - it was very refreshing to have a lot in common with my classmates. I gained very useful skills and knowledge to have in my Public Administration Tool Box. I also made some lifetime friends along the way.
When I finished the MPA program I had already been hired as a Transportation Planner in
I now work as the Field Director for the Democratic Party of Oregon as part of the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) State Partnership Program that was implemented under Chairman Howard Dean. I have been working for the Party for about 1 1/2 yrs and am excited to be in such a great position as we are headed into a Presidential Election year. My MPA provided me with tools that are helpful in this job as well, especially policy analysis for making sense of the issues we endorse as well as management and motivation skills for managing my staff. After the 2008 election, who knows where I am headed with my career, but I know that my MPA from Idaho State University will serve me well, whatever direction I take.” Autumn Wilburn
Connie B. Guthrie, MPA, 2004
“Upon completing my undergraduate studies, I wanted to continue my education. Selecting a program was difficult with the many excellent programs offered by
When I reflect on my experiences in the program what I found most important were the students and professors I interacted with and whom I formed lasting contacts and relationships with. Learning about public policy and its implications on everything from
I am currently an Assistant Director of Financial Aid and use what I learned in the MPA program performing my daily duties. Interpreting federal, state and university policy and guidelines and their application to student clients, is facilitated through the decision-making process I learned in the MPA program. Interpersonal communication with students and colleagues has been enhanced. I have also used the skills gained in the MPA program to plan and complete projects within the Financial Aid Office, the University and the community. The MPA program provides insight for a lifetime.” Connie B. Guthrie
Ben Rogers, MPA, 2004
“Upon entering the MPA program, I had three goals: a. Earn a degree that would give me the knowledge and skills to enter the field of Public Administration; b. Combine classroom education with internship experience to help me further understand the role and function of a public administrator; and c. Obtain employment upon graduation. I was able to achieve all three of the above goals during the course of completing the MPA program. My internship with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality was especially important in helping me gain the practical knowledge necessary to complement my MPA studies. The internship also helped me develop the skills and abilities to find employment upon graduation.
The biggest memories I have in terms of what I learned in the MPA program center on understanding the difference between public and private organizations. Public organizations cannot (and perhaps should not) operate in the same manner as their private counterparts. While private organizations function to achieve economic gain through their operation, and to distribute those gains to its shareholders, public organizations exist to serve the public through providing goods and/or services in a manner that is open, transparent, and responsive to the public it serves through their elected officials. Although public organizations should seek to adopt industry best practices, when appropriate, to aid in delivering goods and/or services more efficiently, this should only be done as a secondary concern to serving the public in a responsible manner. It is essential for a public administrator to understand and appreciate the differences between the purpose of a public organization and that of a private enterprise. I began to understand these important differences when I took the Organizational Theory & Bureaucratic Structure course, and further increased my knowledge of these distinctions by taking Finance and Budgeting, and Public Personnel Administration.
Shortly before graduation from the MPA program in 2004, I successfully competed for the Presidential Management Fellowship, which allowed me to gain a two-year appointment with an agency in the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. I chose the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and began work at the VA Medical Center in
Elizabeth A. Shanahan, MPA graduate 2004 (Doctor of Arts, 2005)
“I decided to pursue an MPA along the way to earning a Doctor of Arts for a couple of reasons. First, I am passionate about the role and purpose of public sector work. I had had some experience as a public administrator before beginning my studies, and yet I understood I was making decisions in a rather intuitive vs informed fashion. I was not seeking techniques or ‘hard skills,’ but, rather, a theoretical anchoring in what it means to be a public administrator, actualize the public good, and work with citizens. Second, I knew I wanted to teach and my zeal for PA studies made this decision easy.
ISU’s MPA program did an excellent job in structuring courses so that students learn PA theory and apply it to various cases. This theorypractice focus of the program is a substantial strength in preparing public administrators. We worked and deliberated together in class, in wrestling with some tough questions and varied political perspectives. The moment that made the greatest impact on my teaching MPA students now, however, was in studying for comprehensive exams. It was in studying for these exams that I had that understanding how these ‘silo’ courses really were synthesized through different perspectives of democracy. The ‘ah-ha’ moments were plentiful throughout the program, but that one was my favorite and shaped how I teach MPA students today.
I now teach at
Lavetra Castles - MPA 2004
“I entered the MPA program at ISU in 1997 while working as an entry level supervisor with the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC). My undergraduate degree was from
Classes in Organizational Theory, Ethics, Policy Analysis, Public Personnel and Finance were extremely beneficial. I enjoyed the real world applications that were used by the professors. The classes, while presenting theory, also encouraged students to examine how theory applied to real organizations. Required group projects in several of the classes also taught us how to work with different people and value their ideas and insight on the problems the fictional agencies were facing.
By the time I completed the MPA program I worked as a United States Probation Officer for the U.S. District Court of Idaho. I recently promoted to Deputy Chief U.S. Probation Officer and will start that position in January 2008. I believe the MPA program was a valuable asset in competing for this position.” Lavetra Castles
Tony Gonzales, MPA, 2004.
“After graduation from high school I was determined to become an attorney. After doing my homework I found that most attorneys majored in Political Science, so I majored in Political Science. I enjoyed the courses and am glad that I took both Constitutional and Administrative Law, because I realized that Law school was not for me. I enjoyed the Political Science courses and was fortunate enough to take a course in the MPA program as an under-graduate. I decided to apply to the MPA program to gain a better understanding of how to effectively form policies that will impact how people live and viewed the program as a way to still be involved with law.
I really enjoyed the program and it went by very fast. The program is very well developed and discussions from one course can continue in the next one. I enjoyed the diversity of the students in the program, not only in ethnicity, but also in age. The program allowed for great interaction and allowed both young and old student to learn from each other. I learned how to effectively research and write, identify stakeholders, be aware of unethical practices developing, and how the history of our country is still developing and shaping policy. Most importantly I learned how to be patient and not over react in times of crisis. The program took a historical approach to teaching and frequently cited events and the outcomes. While I can not cite the name of every individual that we studied and define every term that we discussed in the program, I can tell you that I am using what I learned to this day.
I am currently working for the
MPA program prepared me to mediate and run numerous meetings. I have always been a people person, but now I can understand both sides of an issue, get both sides to agree to disagree, and come up with compromising solution.” Tony Gonzales
Joseph Pearson, MPA, 2003
“When I began the MPA program I had high expectations for learning what it takes to be an effective and excellent public administrator. Because I was currently working in an administrative position, I was looking to enhance the skills and attributes that I currently had with the appropriate theory and common practice that would help me in the day to day exercises of leadership. I was eager to glean information from the excellent staff in the MPA program, from their knowledge of theory, their practical experience and years of wisdom. I wanted to obtain my masters education in public administration because of the opportunity it would afford me to gain experience and insight that would help me in my future career whether in the private sector or the public sector.
Some of the things that I remember about my study in the MPA program are the case studies that were reviewed in many of my classes. These studies helped in the decision making process whether it was in ethics, theory or the administrative process classes. I also learned much from the practical knowledge in grant writing that has proven to be very valuable. One other enjoyable moment was the community planning class. This class opened up a new perspective to me about the meanings of place to me and how I can help to understand and enhance places. I also appreciated the close relationships that I built with faculty and fellow students in the program.
I currently am the Director of the
Chris Peirsol, MPA, 2003
“Upon entering the MPA program, I had some very high expectations. First, I wanted to further develop my leadership and managerial skills. With my background in private sector management and with the course selection available, I knew this would be possible. Public Personnel Administration, Financial Administration & Budgeting, Organizational Theory and Bureaucratic Structure, and Public Administration Ethics were among the courses that I found to be incredibly useful for an aspiring public administrator
Secondly, I wanted to become more marketable in the arena of non-profit and public sector management. The MPA program at
I have a number of very good memories of the MPA program. Some notable concepts that I remember well include: McGregor’s x and y management styles, “Taylorism,” “Machinism,” and the different movements toward high efficiency performance, the five step model of policy analysis, Bardach’s eightfold path to policy analysis, the different motivations and types of budgets from Financial Administration & Budgeting, studying the dangers of group think and the ways that it led to the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, and finally the concept of Total Quality Management.
I have served as Executive Director of Aid For Friends, a private non-profit corporation, since September of 2003. I also serve as President of Partners For Prosperity, and as a member of other boards including: The Portneuf Valley Interfaith Fellowship, The Post Register’s Readers Advisory Board, The Idaho State Journal’s Content Advisory Board, the Homeless and Housing Coalition of Southeast Idaho, and formerly served on the Governor’s statewide committee to end chronic homelessness within ten years. Professionally speaking, the MPA I obtained from
Tom Putnam, MPA, 2003
“My initial goal entering the MPA program was to gain education and experience that would allow me to pursue a career in state or local government. While this goal remains a possibility for my future career, a valuable internship as part of the MPA program changed my career course.
My biggest memories include learning material, not just presented as theory, but as practical and useful information that could be used and applied in a real-world setting. Mark provided a great opportunity to better understand what you learned through role play, group exercises and an internship. I made some great friends in the program and try to stay in contact with some of them still today.
I am currently the community development manager for Partners for Prosperity, a non-profit organization whose mission is to reduce poverty in
My work at Partners for Prosperity directly relates to my education and experience in the MPA program. Course-work relating to the decision-making process and stakeholder analysis has helped me understand and work with a wide range of people from various backgrounds and establish critical partnerships for our organization. I have also been involved with policy and advocacy work, helping to improve state and local policy related to various initiatives at Partners for Prosperity. In addition, I have benefited tremendously from my course-work in grant writing, budgeting and personnel, which I use on a daily basis as a manager.” Tom Putnam
Chris Brower, MPA, 2002
“I completed my Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Idaho State University (ISU) in 2000 and after researching the employment field for Psychology technicians, I decided to pursue the Master of Public Administration in the Department of Political Science at ISU to become trained as an administrator. My preferred employment sites were government and non-profit organizations with an eye toward employment at ISU. The MPA degree offered a focus on governmental agencies and non-profit organizations specifically. My overall goal was to become trained to administer programs to assist individuals achieve their educational and employment goals to become self-sufficient.
I have sharp memories in the classroom of case studies we examined in detail. These case studies explored important employment issues in the areas of Affirmative Action, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and legal issues related to fairness in hiring, on the job treatment, and equitable wages for women and men. I enjoyed taking apart the case study details and applying professional and ethical standards to "solve" the cases. Many course assignments involved group work. I tend to work as a solitary worker and these assignments, though challenging, were imperative to my development as an administrator. The MPA coursework has real world applicability and is founded on a strong theoretical foundation. The coursework prepared me very well for my work as an administrator with a strong ethical foundation. I have a deep understanding of public policy, the political arena, and the role of divergent stakeholders in decision making. I highly recommend the MPA program to individuals committed to administering programs to benefit constituents and citizens.
I completed the MPA internship with the Center for New Directions at the College of Technology at ISU as the administrator for the Skill Oriented Learning is a Valued Education (SOLVE) program. This program provided paid training leading to employment for individuals receiving welfare benefits. The program was very successful and I witnessed very positive benefits for recipients through our work. The internship was vital in my development as a public administrator. At the end of two years, the SOLVE program was transformed into another state program and I left ISU and entered a doctoral program in Sociology at
I accepted my current position as Director for the Center for New Directions at
Greg Hill, MPA, 2002
“To be honest, my goals in entering the MPA program were more personal than professional. I had recently graduated and been accepted to optometry school, but wasn’t sure that was the career path for me. So I applied to and was accepted into the MPA program to determine if public service was what I wanted to do.
One of the most valuable lessons I learned from the MPA program at
Today, I’m a professor of Public Policy and Administration, and Director of the Applied Research Program in the MPA program at
Mark Mussman, MPA, 2002
“I entered the graduate program at Idaho State University (ISU), if my memory serves me correctly, in the Spring Semester, 1996. At that time, I was merely concentrating on a general career move from the “real world” into academia. That semester’s class load consisted of Political Science graduate courses. My initial plan was to complete a Masters program at ISU and then pursue a Doctorate degree at another university. Because ISU felt so comfortable and I realized some degree of academic success the following semester, I turned my sights toward pursuing a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) as well as a Doctorate of Arts (DA). At first, I viewed the MPA as a fall back degree in case the DA requirements became too daunting to complete. The further on I traveled down the MPA road, the more I realized that this degree was something a lot more than a fall back degree. I entered the program a quite, reserved, non-traditional student unsure, at first, how I would react to being back in a classroom environment after a 16 year absence. I left the program with a tremendous theoretic as well as practical foundation that as proved invaluable.
I had so many great memories during my time in the MPA program. From my first class, Bureaucratic and Organizational Theory, through Policy Analysis, Ethics and Research Methods, I gained valuable knowledge and experience. The group projects were exceptionally fulfilling. And the various presentations have proven helpful as I have advanced in my professional life. The MPA program at ISU does not suffer from a theoretic/practical disconnect that perhaps other programs suffer from. This theoretic/practical dichotomy merges to form a program that prepares its students for public or private sector work as well as prepares students for further academic pursuits. Perhaps most importantly, the guidance, nurturing and educating students receive in the MPA program at ISU is, without a doubt, unmatched any where else in the country.
I have been employed since leaving ISU with the
DJ Teichert, MPA, 2002
“I entered the ISU MPA program relatively young at the age of 24 with little experience and still undecided on exactly what I should do for a career. Because of this indecision, the flexibility of ISU’s MPA program was very appealing to me. The program allowed me to study two areas of interest; Health Services Administration and Personnel Administration and gain the skills and knowledge to be successful in both. I entered the program in the fall of 1998 and graduated in the spring of 2000.
In terms of what I learned in the program, what I most appreciated was the real life application that the instruction had for me. Whether it was public personnel administration, personnel economics, organizational theory, health program planning and evaluation, or health services organization and delivery I felt like I could turn around and apply what I learned in the work setting. I also had several of the finest teachers that I have had in my educational experience.
Upon graduating from the MPA program I took a position with Brigham Young University-Idaho as the Tutoring Center Supervisor and have been here ever since. Though one may question the relevance of an MPA degree to running a tutoring center, I have found my coursework, particularly in personnel administration invaluable to my position. I feel like my MPA degree gives me instant credibility as well as the practical know-how that has allowed me to turn our tutoring center into a very well organized and operated program. If I had to do it all again, I wouldn’t have done anything different.” DJ Teichert
Lisa Redford-Prince, MPA, 2001
“Approximately eight years after completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work, I was ready to pursue a graduate degree. I was interested in the MPA program because it accepted candidates from a variety of undergraduate backgrounds and professional experience; and I felt the program would be a good fit with my interests and abilities. The program offered strong curriculum components in the areas of management, public health, and lawall of which were areas of study I wanted to gain greater expertise in. My hope was that a graduate degree would build upon my earlier areas of study and work experience, while providing me with increased opportunities for professional growth in the field of public service.
One of the best aspects of the MPA program is that it is truly designed for the working professional. I was able to complete almost all of my classes in the evenings while still maintaining a full-time work schedule. For potential candidates looking to maintain their employment while pursuing a graduate degree, this program is an ideal fit. The coursework is interesting and varied; the professors accessible and flexible; and the option to complete a master’s project and/or thesis is a great aspect of program design. In terms of overall learning, I found the classes which dealt with policy, budget development, personnel, and administrative law to be the most helpfulespecially in terms of what I do now. I found much of the curriculum to be practical and focused on real-world applicability, which was an asset in terms of taking theoretical concepts and putting them into practice.
I was employed as a social worker for the Southeastern District Home Health & Hospice Program at the time I completed my MPA. Approximately a year later, I was offered the position of Public Health Division Administrator for the Southeastern District Health Department. I currently oversee the Home Health & Hospice Division, supervise approximately 25 employees, as well as develop and manage a $2 million budget. Principal accountabilities for my position include: developing goals and evaluating programs for efficiency and cost-effectiveness through reviews, audits, cost allocations, and activity reports; developing policies and procedures to ensure compliance with state and federal laws and regulations; developing and administering an annual budget based on program activities, expenditures and revenue generated; writing grant proposals and applications for new funding sources; hiring staff and evaluating performance; determining and insuring staff competencies; developing and implementing a quality assurance program; consulting with physicians and other health care providers to assess community home care service needs; analyzing trends in health care to initiate change and to meet legal requirements; and serving on various boards, panels and commissions in representing the division and the health department to our member communities. The MPA degree has proven to be invaluable to me in the last four years as I’ve navigated the challenges of working in the field of public health. I would highly recommend the program to anyone interested in the field of public administration!” Lisa Redford-Prince
David Beveridge, MPA, 2000
“When I enrolled in the MPA program I wanted to broaden my education beyond an engineering degree and strengthen my ability to be an effective leader in government. As I progressed in my engineering career I witnessed good technical engineers lack the training and ability to work effectively with people in difficult situations. I wanted to become a better manager and public servant
My internship with the City of
Several classroom events and discussions were also extremely memorable more notably of which were: Dr. McBeth’s use of videos to stimulate discussion on policy triggering events and group think; the concept of irrational rationalism; the need for stakeholders to agree on the problem statement for successful public policy to develop; and the vanishing table in the Politics of Place.
I never would have imagined that a Master’s degree could have such a practical and relevant application to my career or personal life. Currently I am a U.S. Public Health Service officer assigned to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium as a Regional Engineering Manager for the Southern region of
The sense of community I developed as a student intern has also carried with me to
The MPA has proved invaluable in my career as a public servant and also in my personal life as a volunteer in the community.” David Beveridge
Ashley B. Ford, MPA, 2000
“My main goal in entering the MPA program was to find a direction in order to utilize my undergraduate degree of pre-law. I was not ready to enter into law school because I had no idea what I would like to specialize in and I felt that entering the MPA program was the appropriate means to discovering this. I was correct and found that I have the talent for planning and public policy which I will transfer into a law degree focusing on land use law in the future.
In the last eight years since graduating with my MPA, I have found that I have utilized at least one item from each class throughout my career in the public and private sectors. The most important aspect I took away from each class was the fact that class projects or assignments were grounded in reality versus ivory-tower based. My favorite class was the public policy class in which we were brought into a real-life issue that was occurring at that time and learning how to decipher what was real and what was not factually speaking. I apply some of these principles in what I do each day.
I have ownership in a regional design firm that specializes in land use planning; master planning; municipal planning; civil engineering; water resources; land surveying & landscape architecture. I oversee the planning department which has three divisions at this time and serve as project manager for over 50+ projects including large master-planned communities. I never would have been able to achieve this position career-wise without my MPA. Upon graduation from ISU, I took a position with the City of
Nick Petrozzino, MPA, 2000
“Having been a public employee for approximately 15 years at the time, I not only felt I was a career public employee but I started to view myself as a student in the political arena and public administration system. That’s not to say I wasn’t interested in advancing my career. I was. However, I strongly believe that the pubic has a right to the greatest return on their investment, and I felt a fiducial responsibility to make an investment in myself and offer the tax payer a positive return, as well as enhance my personal “know how” and career.
What stands out the most as a MPA student was the support and mentoring that Dr. McBeth, as well as other members of the faculty offered without reservation. I also recall how we were encouraged - no required - to take a global view of issues regardless of our personal biases. I was also exposed to the relationship among legislative committees, special interest groups/lobbyists, and public administrators the “iron triangle”- and the concept comes to mind nearly everyday in my current position. In addition, the text and lectures I felt were designed to whet the appetite. They developed in me a need to know more, to read more, and to experiment more. In short the MPA program builds personal initiative.
Currently I am the lead planner for
You are off on a rewarding journey and cannot ask for better guides. Good luck and if you’re every in
Debbie Ronneburg, MPA May, 2000
“I graduated from the MPA program in May 2000. Choosing to pursue a degree in Public Administration is one of the best career decisions I have made. I had completed a BA in English and worked in the Office of Registration and Records at
I attended courses while working full time. I enrolled in six to nine credits per semester, and I was able to complete my degree in three years while continuing to gain essential job experience in my desired field. The education I received in my program was invaluable. The topics where current, meaningful, and helped me to think outside the box and question why we do the things we do. The most memorable part of the program was the interaction with other students and faculty. Students in the program came from a wide variety of educational backgrounds which enhanced our class discussions and helped me gain a better understanding of areas outside my expertise. Our faculty showed great interest in our education. They were our teachers, mentors, and friends.
Within two months after graduation, I was offered a management position at ISU. I am currently the Director of Student Services at
Scott Turlington, MPA, 2000
“Why did I go into the MPA program? I have always been intrigued by public policy and how that impacts local, state and federal decision-making process. The MPA program at ISU allowed me focus on those things that I found interesting while learning about the intricacies of public administration and policy. As a political science major, it sometimes seems like a foregone conclusion that law school is the only option following undergrad work, however, for me, I found that I had no interest in interpreting laws and policy that were being made, but rather I wanted to be the person making and influencing those laws and policies. That is the primary reason I chose the MPA program. As it turns out, it was the right decision for me.
Some of my best memories involve the “out of class” discussions we had in the political science library on everything from political theory to the pros and cons of hitchhiking. Most of the time, those discussions would then carry over into the classroom. One of my favorite classes was organizational and bureaucratic theory. I have found that this class has been one of the more relevant classes, particularly since most of my career has dealt with working directly with large, lethargic and cumbersome bureaucracies both at the state level and federal level.
After graduating from the MPA program, I worked in the U.S. Senate for
Tim Tingey, MPA, 1997
“I graduated from
· Increase my knowledge of government and public organizations;
· Develop a better appreciation and knowledge of public processes;
· Learn skills that would help me in obtaining a public sector job and to ultimately work as a public administrator in the future.
I enjoyed the courses offered in the program and have specific memories of public policy and personnel classes. Dr. Mark McBeth utilized creative group case study assignments which was effective in evaluating and applying public policy and personnel principles in an interactive setting. This approach helped me reflect more on how I would handle situations that may occur in the public sector which enhanced my knowledge and desire to work as a public administrator. I also learned a great deal in the research methods course which increased my desire to be involved in research oriented projects in the public sector. I also worked as a research assistant facilitating focus groups for Dr. Mark McBeth and Dr. Ann Hunter which provided memorable experiences in meetings with community citizens and officials in southeastern
I currently work for the City of
The MPA faculty and program elements offered helped me to achieve each of the goals I had established for myself when entering the program. The influence and assistance from the MPA faculty were critical in my efforts to obtain my first job in the public sector. I also believe the MPA program curriculum and faculty contribute in making this a very high caliber program that prepares students to be outstanding public administrators.” B. Tim Tingey
Cydney Gregory Pearce, MPA, 1996
When I entered the MPA program at ISU, I had just completed a stint on Capitol Hill and work on a congressional campaign in
I was the youngest student in my cohort, just out of college, with limited real world experience. My professors taught practical applications, along with current theory. I gained a wealth of knowledge about life in public organizations from many of my fellow students. I took skills I learned in the classroom and integrated them seamlessly into my work environment. My internship at Southeast Idaho Council of Government (SEICOG) involved grant writing, economic development, and regional planning. I completed an independent study at SICOG which was funded by the EPA and developed the Portneuf River Wastershed Education Project.
I am currently the State Office Manager/Special Projects Coordinator for U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D)-AR. In both 1998 and 2004, I served as Deputy Campaign Manager of Senator Lincoln’s U.S. Senate Campaigns. Since 1999, I have held various positions in her State Office in
Public service is a challenging, rewarding career. I believe the demanding academic curriculum and excellent faculty in the ISU MPA program made me a more competent, considerate public manager. Thanks to all the MPA faculty who NEVER made fun of my southern drawl!” Cydney Gregory Pearce
Stacey L. Garitone: Class of 1996 (Mark’s FIRST Class)
“Since graduating in 1996, I have worked in a variety of positions relating to our field of study. My first “real” MPA job was working at the Southeast Idaho Council of Governments (SICOG) with Kathleen Lewis in Community Development. I wrote and administered Idaho Rural Community Development Block Grants (ICDBG), worked with rural communities and counties on economic development. I also worked with the Portneuf Greenway when the organization was at SICOG, and worked with the Bannock Planning Organization.
I left SICOG to become the first Executive Director of the Greater Pocatello Convention and Visitors Bureau. I worked with publicly elected Board of Directors and guided the agency through its first year. I wrote grants, developed, and administered the first year budget, bylaws and recruiting volunteers for
I have also worked as Regional Director for a national non-profit and as planner/grant writer for a small city in