Historic Cohort for DPA Program

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Historic Cohort for DPA Program

Manuel Román-Basora

Manuel Román-Basora

Manuel Román-Basora

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The Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) program of the University of Illinois Springfield held its honorary orientation session last Friday. Among the attendees were UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch, seven faculty members, seven graduates, and 23 students.  

The event was opened by Chancellor Koch, indicating that she is proud of the program and the manner in which it serves the needs of practitioners. She expressed that she cannot imagine a better location for such a program than Springfield – the home of Abraham Lincoln. Based on her personal experience raising four children while writing her doctoral dissertation at the University of Northern Iowa, Koch invited the 2019 DPA cohort to be skilled in multitasking.  

This team has acquired 24 students, making it the largest since the program began 21 years ago. This program is known for its world-class faculty and high quality students, featuring some of the most accomplished social sector leaders in the region. 

As a historical point, it is noteworthy that statewide interest in creating a DPA program at UIS can be traced back 50 years ago to when UIS was founded as Sangamon State University.  A document published by the State of Illinois Board of Education in 1969 states: “A program leading to the degree of Doctor of Public Administration should be initiated by 1975 – or as soon thereafter possible – by Sangamon State University.”  The DPA was founded in 1998 to remedy the absence of such a program within the state of Illinois. Under the leadership of Director Bland, the visibility of the program has only increased. 

During the event, Director J. Travis Bland highlighted the importance of connecting with something larger than oneself and having a higher purpose beyond earning a doctoral degree. He emphasized the importance of time management, eliminating distractions, and maintaining balance in all walks of life.  He called on students to measure individual success by their ability to make an impact on the community, rather than hyper-fixating on a grade.  

2019 DPA graduate Sophia M. Gehlhausen Anderson referred to public administration as one of the most important disciplines that can be studied and something that provides meaning to work.  She indicated that, upon graduation last May, she felt like a different person. Anderson shared several tips for the 2019 DPA cohort; the tips were as follows: give other things up, establish timelines with tangible benchmarks, be realistic as to how much one can do, keep good notes on core courses and hold onto them for the qualifying exam, develop a working relationship with members of the team, and find something to motivate oneself. 

Associate Director Sean McCandless also shared words of advice with the upcoming cohort. Some of the tips shared pertained to building conceptual frameworks versus isolating classes, exploring conferences, considering independent studies, meeting regularly with an advisor, making time for oneself and family, and remembering passion for public service. 

For more information on the program, visit www.uis.edu/dpa

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