Chancellor’s Fellows. I had lunch on Monday with two fellows from the Chancellor’s Fellows Program for 2017-2018. It is a program for talented recent Carolina graduates who work out of the Chancellor’s Office for a year to learn about higher education administration. They meet with senior leaders of the University to learn about their programs and to help them reflect on future careers options. One of the fellows was a young woman from Salisbury and the other was a young man from West Virginia. I told them about the work of the School, and I also talked about the MPA Program and why it is the best MPA program in the world. They didn’t know very much about the field of public administration or MPA programs. Both of them are drawn to careers in public service and they loved the idea of being prepared for careers that might take any number of different directions over time. It is so challenging to market the MPA Program, and yet I feel like it resonates strongly with many students when they learn about it. I hope to convince one or more of the Chancellor’s Fellows to apply for our MPA Program.
NCCCMA Winter Seminar. Last week the winter seminar for the North Carolina City and County Management Association (NCCCMA) was held in Winston-Salem. The School was incredibly well represented. Faculty were involved in a range of different sessions, and many of our professional staff were working there in a variety of important ways. It was a great illustration of One School in action—the seminar could not have happened without a strong commitment on the part of faculty and staff. Here’s the agenda for the NCCCMA seminar and a few impressions.
This was the first time in a very long time that the seminar was held somewhere other than the Sheraton Imperial in RTP. That means it was less convenient for us. It was held in downtown Winston-Salem at the Benton Convention Center, and the feedback that I heard from the managers was incredibly positive. The main comment was how much they loved being able to walk to restaurants and other downtown attractions during breaks and in the evening. They had felt trapped at the Sheraton Imperial. It is a good reminder that the question always should be what is most convenient for our clients—even though it may be more difficult for us. Special kudos to Lisa Sheffield for the extra effort in making the arrangements work, and to everyone else who traveled the extra distance to be there.
The NCCCMA Executive Committee had a dinner on Wednesday evening, and for the first time they invited Kevin Leonard, Executive Director of NCACC), Paul Meyer (Executive Director of NCLM), and me. John Connet, President of NCCCMA and City Manager for Hendersonville, opened the dinner by talking eloquently about our collective history and the importance of our partnership. It was a wonderful evening and I had the chance to have good conversations with several managers—Martha Paige (Morrisville), Grant Goings (Wilson), and Michael Peoples (Gastonia). Carl Stenberg and Kim Nelson work closely with NCCCMA and they also represented the School at the dinner. It was a great opportunity to reinforce to the managers how much we value our partnership with them. John Connet set the perfect tone for a wonderful event.
Most of the MPA programs in North Carolina host an alumni breakfast as a part of the NCCCMA seminar. We had a good turnout for our breakfast—it was another example of our faculty and professional staff working closely together to make it happen. Winston-Salem is less convenient for our MPA students and so we had fewer from the residential format than usual at the breakfast, though we had a good representation of students who are in the online format. I sat next to Dave Allen who is finishing MPA@UNC after retiring from a career in the US Coast Guard. I also talked with Justin Stirewalt, who is with the Surry County Sheriff’s Office and is also enrolled in MPA@UNC. Justin collects books by Albert Coates and is incredibly interested in our history, partly because his grandfather attended Highway Patrol School at the Institute (bottom picture). His collection includes the first issue of Popular Government from January 1931. Mr. Coates wrote a number of “meant to me” books (like What the North Carolina Memorial Hospital Meant to Me). Justin emailed me photos of his Coates collection, and said “[t]aking a running theme from some of Coates’ works, I can say ‘these are just some of the images of what the School of Government means to me.’” I absolutely love that the School is providing opportunities for people like Dave and Justin to attend our MPA Program through the online format.
I attended NCCCMA for parts of two days, and then headed back to Chapel Hill. I had to leave before the end of a conference workshop on The War on Opioids: Attacking the Epidemic on Multiple Fronts. I heard an impressive presentation by Police Chief Thomas Bashore (Nashville), but unfortunately left before Kim Nelson’s presentation. I know she was planning to talk about a grant we have just received from Blue Cross Blue Shield to partner with ten communities over two years in developing their responses to the opioid crisis. Kudos to everyone involved in the grant, which will be supported by ncIMPACT—more about it later.
Responsibility-Centered Management. I left NCCCMA for a meeting of the Provost’s Leadership Cabinet about the University’s still-evolving budget model. It was a critically important meeting and I was able to argue—again—that the current proposal simply does not take into account the public-service mission of the School. Or the public service of other units on campus, or the public service reflected in Chancellor Folt’s Blueprint for Next. It is clear that some version of responsibility-centered management (RCM) will be adopted and the meeting was an opportunity to give feedback to new Provost Bob Blouin. I feel like our special circumstances are understood and will be considered as the model continues to be finalized. My argument has been that public service continues to be a core part of Carolina’s mission and that it must be reflected and valued in how RCM is implemented. I will continue arguing for the inclusion of public service.