Spotlight on importance of training local government professionals
The nationally ranked NIU Division of Public Administration is celebrating its 50th anniversary with three upcoming events, including an educational conference that will focus on the importance of training professionals to deliver high quality services in local government.
The 50th Anniversary Educational Conference will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, at the Chicago Marriott Northwest, 4800 Hoffman Blvd., in Hoffman Estates. Cost for the event, which includes buffet breakfast and plated lunch, is $60.
Registration is available online.
“We are hoping to attract an audience of managers and elected officials from throughout the region who are interested in core government issues, including the generational change that is forecast in local government with a tidal wave of baby boomer retirements,” said Kurt Thurmaier, director of the NIU Division of Public Administration.
U.S. News and World Report ranks NIU’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) program fifth in the nation in the specialty field of city management and urban policy and 12th in the field of public finance and budgeting.
“We need to raise awareness of the public administration profession among young people, who tend to view government with suspicion,” Thurmaier added. “Our challenge at NIU, and the challenge of local government, is to convince millenials that they can feed their passion for service with a local government position.”
Keynote speakers at the conference will be James Svara of Arizona State University, who will talk about the legacy of professional local government management, and Laura Huffman of the Nature Conservancy in Texas, who will speak about how high quality Master of Public Administration programs prepare students for public service.
Svara is research professor in the School of Public Affairs and fellow of the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics at ASU. This coming school year, he will serve as a visiting professor at the School of Government, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Svara, who holds a Ph.D. in political science from Yale University, specializes in local government politics, management, ethics, innovation and sustainability. He has a special interest in the roles and responsibilities of elected and administrative officials in local governments.
Huffman serves as state director for The Nature Conservancy of Texas, heading a team of more than 80 scientists, conservation experts and support staff.
She is one of the conservancy’s most trusted national voices and speaks regularly on environmental issues. Huffman holds a master’s of public affairs from the University of Texas at Austin and served from 2002 to 2008 as assistant city manager for the city of Austin.
The conference also will feature an afternoon colloquium with a distinguished panel of speakers, including:
- Rebecca Hendrick, associate professor of political science at the University of Illinois Chicago.
- Mike Craw, assistant professor in the public administration program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
- Brian Caputo, chief financial officer and city treasurer for the City of Aurora.
- Donijo Robbins, professor of public finance at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.
Other upcoming events celebrating the NIU Division of Public Administration’s golden anniversary include:
- The NIU MPA golf outing for alumni, faculty, staff and friends. It will be held at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, at The Bridges of Poplar Creek in Hoffman Estates. Registration is $125 per single and includes the round of golf, lunch and dinner. Contact the MPA office at (815) 753-0184 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- The MPA program is assembling a contingent to participate in the Ride Like an Egyptian bike ride through DeKalb and Kane counties. It will begin at 7 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Egyptian Theatre in downtown DeKalb. Enter coupon code “MPA” to unlock registration for the MPA group when purchasing tickets.