A Profile of Group Member Excelsior College

Tell me about the typical Excelsior MPA student and how they utilize their ASPA membership.

Excelsior MPA students are amazing. Their average age is approximately 37 years old and they are generally juggling work, family and school. This makes them a highly motivated group of students who work hard to do well in the program. Additionally, approximately one third of our students are active military.

They utilize their ASPA memberships in a variety of ways. Given the fact that we have students around the country, their ability to meet with specific Chapters in different areas is something they take advantage of. Additionally, the varied webinars, BookTalks, articles and opportunities to participate have been used by our students to enhance their learning, build their resumes and expand their outlook of public administration.

Excelsior’s MPA has a concentration in Mediation and Arbitration. How do your students utilize these skills in a professional setting?

The three courses from our Mediation and Arbitration concentration focus on different areas: mediation, workplace conflict resolution and arbitration. Students may utilize these skills in a variety of different situations including application of civil service employment rules and regulations, collective bargaining negotiations, vendor relationships, agency-to-agency and public-private partnership arrangements, and agency relationships with the executive, legislative and judicial offices.

What do you think are some of the emerging topics in public administration? How do you prepare your students to address these topics?

I think there are myriad emerging topics, but I will narrow it down to three. One of the most important topics is the use of technology in government. Public administration students need to understand the administrative issues that arise because of advanced technology. Because of this, in every course in our program there is at least one unit that focuses on the technology issues of the course subject.

The second important topic is diversity. We cannot ignore the great need for public administrators to get outside their own spheres and expand their thinking to include different opinions, groups and ways of thinking. Diversity comes in many different forms. Whatever group you are in, there is not necessarily sameness. The key is to embrace the differences, hear new ideas and incorporate them so everyone feels included and part of the group.

My final emerging topic is the importance of learning and working in teams. Today’s workforce, whether in the public or private sectors, is increasingly working in teams. Students need to learn how to work in teams and to practice doing it. To this end, the Excelsior MPA requires students to work in groups in multiple courses. Additionally, the MPA capstone allows students to work in teams of three in a computer simulated environment, where students take on one of several city administrator roles and then find solutions to the problems of our fictional city, Excelsiorville. The simulation provides practical application opportunities for the students and helps them further develop teamwork skills.