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Kurt Thurmaier selected as a National Academy of Public Administration Fellow

November 5, 2018

Kurt Thurmaier, NIU Presidential Engagement Professor and chair of the Department of Public Administration, School of Public and Global Affairs, has been elected as a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.

From left to right: Dr. Anne Khademian, chair, board of directors, Kurt Thurmaier, Terry
Gerton, president and CEO of the National Academy of Public Administration

Fellows are nominated by current Academy members, and election follows a rigorous review of the individual’s contributions to the field of public administration and policy. Thurmaier is one of 40 leaders in Public Administration who joins the 2018 Class of Academy Fellows.

“It’s very satisfying because it is recognition by your peers that you are doing work of distinction – work that matters – and you are making an impact on public affairs,” Thurmaier said.

Chartered by Congress in 1967, the Academy is an independent, nonprofit, non-partisan organization designed to assist government leaders in building more effective, efficient accountable and transparent organization.

“Our Fellows are nationally recognized for their contributions to the field of public administration and this year’s class is no exception,” Academy President and CEO, Terry Gerton, said. “They are an outstanding group, representing the best in public administration professionals, and will enrich our Fellowship.”

Thurmaier is a respected expert on state and local governmental budgeting and has spent years researching and teaching budgetary decision making in the U.S. and other countries. He is one of the nation’s leading experts on city-county consolidations, authoring two books and several articles on the subject, and is a respected authority on local government collaborations and shared services.

Thurmaier is being recognized in part for his interdisciplinary leadership at NIU. He led faculty efforts to create the School of Public & Global Affairs (SPGA), collaborated with an interdisciplinary team of faculty to create the Center for Nonprofit and NGO Leadership (previously NGOLD) as a founding unit in the school, and led the interdisciplinary team that developed one of NIU’s first interdisciplinary undergraduate degrees, now the NNGO Studies major. Thurmaier served as the founding director of the SPGA and the NGOLD Center when they were launched.

Thurmaier is co-founder and president of Tanzania Development Support, a nonprofit organization that raises money in the U.S. to fund education projects for children in rural Tanzania. He leads month-long study abroad courses to Tanzania every other year to study the role of NGOs in developing countries.

Under Thurmaier’s leadership, enrollments in the Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) program have grown to record levels, and U.S. News & World Report recently named NIU’s program among the top five in the nation in the specialty field of local government management and top 15 in public finance and budgeting.

“Our students are not just getting a degree at NIU; they are launching their careers,” Thurmaier said. “Recognition that the program is an excellent place for students to learn is very rewarding.”

This fall, the department launched its online M.P.A. program focused exclusively on local government management designed for midcareer professionals working in all types of local governments across the country.

Thurmaier was recognized at the Academy’s annual meeting which took place on Nov. 1-2 in Arlington, Virginia. He joins nearly 900 Academy Fellows, which include former cabinet officers, members of Congress, governors, mayors and state legislators, as well as prominent scholars, business executives, nonprofit leaders and public administrators.