SPRING / SUMMER 2020
Rutgers SPAA Celebrates Class of 2020
Internship Course Thrives Despite COVID-19 Pandemic
Experiential Philanthropy with an Academic Purpose
We are proud of our 2020 graduates!
Students navigate remote learning and work simultaneously
Undergraduate course takes on charitable giving
DEAN’SNOTE Dear SPAA Family: I do hope that this message ﬁnds you in a good place physically and mentally right now despite the rampage of the coronavirus and the unrest following the death of George Floyd. I would like to take this opportunity to update you and offer comments on a couple of things with respect to our school. First, all of SPAA’s on-campus courses will be offered remotely this fall. We have been offering online courses for many years, so the learning threshold was not very high for us. Hence, we have a robust set of synchronous and asynchronous courses to offer students this fall. In addition, the Student and Academic Services staff is fully prepared to work with our students remotely. Please visit our COVID-19 website page for SPAA and university services and updates (spaa.newark.rutgers.edu/covid-19). Second, we had many highlights from the spring semester.
This includes the reaction of the faculty and staff to COVID-19. My hat is off to everyone who went above and beyond the call of duty. We not only survived, but we prospered. I, as well as the students, appreciate all of your work to ensure that they received a quality education. Also, we were pleased that we were able to continue many of the services that we planned for the semester. This included the virtual alumni panel and several town hall meetings. During one town hall meeting we talked about racism in the U.S. and how we can improve processes in SPAA. We are truly at a pivotal point in our history and I know that our students will leave the university and lead the charge for equity, inclusion, and diversity efforts in their new positions. Last, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Robert Barchi for all that he has done to move Rutgers University forward during his eight-year tenure and to welcome our new president, Dr. Jonathan Holloway, to our university.
– DEAN CHARLES E. MENIFIELD
SPAA Graduates Share Their Stories of Support and Success at Virtual Careers and Colleagues Panel
On April 16, SPAA hosted the school’s 2020 Annual Alumni Panel highlighting BA/MPA degree holders via a Virtual Careers and Colleagues Panel. All of the participants met during their time at SPAA and most of the graduates participated in the accelerated BA/MPA program. The panelists discussed how their programs and meeting each other impacted both their personal and professional lives, including their career journeys after graduation. Representing a range of career options available in public affairs and administration, the panelists are leaders in government and nonproﬁt organizations and they hold positions both inside and outside of the State of New Jersey. The moderator and panelists were: n Sharon Stroye (MPA'05), Moderator Director, SPAA Oﬃce of Public Engagement n Kenneth Douglass (BA'15, MPA'17) Director, Orange Fire Department n Jason Martinez (BA'15, MPA'17) Director, Youth Services Commission, Essex County, NJ n Catherine Plymel (BA'16, MPA'17) COO, Boys & Girls Club Newark n David Rappaport (BA'15, MPA'16) Team Lead, NJ Department of Environmental Protection 2 |
n Layo Stanback (BA'16, MPA'17)
Director, Tri-State Career Center n Samantha Washington (BA'15, MPA'17) Staffer, Congressman Donald Payne Jr. The panelists answered a series of questions including why they chose SPAA; how they met; how they encouraged each other in their courses; and what skills and experiences SPAA provided them with versus the skills they wished SPAA would have provided them. They also gave advice to current and incoming students who are facing a new normal in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and emphasized the importance of adapting, being intentional, and being an active member of the SPAA family. They underscored that despite being physically separated, SPAA students are not alone and should take advantage of opportunities to connect on social media, bring people together, and celebrate each other’s milestones. Stanback and Rappaport encouraged students to step out of their comfort zones and take chances because new opportunities will be available once the pandemic is over. SPAA’s annual alumni panels aim to strengthen the relationship between current and past students and encourage alumni to take on mentor roles and facilitate internship and employment opportunities for current students.
Rutgers SPAA Celebrates Class of 2020 On May 20, more than 250 School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) graduates were honored and recognized during Rutgers University–Newark’s Virtual Graduate Recognition Ceremony. The celebration featured messages from RU-N Chancellor Nancy Cantor, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, and commencement speaker Angie Martinez, who spoke about the power and magic of the Rutgers-Newark community having the resolve, determination, and innovation to overcome the pandemic. Dean Charles Meniﬁeld congratulated the graduates and advised the new alumni members of the SPAA family. “To the Class of 2020: As you depart from Rutgers University– Newark and the School of Public Affairs and Administration, always remember what you have learned as you embark and grow in your new endeavors,” said Dr. Meniﬁeld. “As a school dedicated to public service, we are conﬁdent that you will live up to the values of competence, diversity, knowledge, service, and ethics throughout your career. We wish you the very best as you begin the next journey.” At the virtual Pi Alpha Alpha honor society celebration held the week before, newly inducted members of the society were honored and the winners of the 2020 SPAA Awards were announced.
2020 SPAA Award Winners n Outstanding
BA Student: Anna Agbotse (BA'20)
PhD Student: Dr. Danbee Lee (PhD’20)
n Outstanding n E.
MPA Student: Nancy Pietrobon (MPA’20)
Drexel Godfrey Award: Salvador Bigay (MPA'20)
Alumni Award for Academic Excellence:
Alumni Award for Practitioner Excellence:
Dr. Jonathan Justice (PhD'03), University of Delaware
Tracy Zur (MPA'18), Bergen County Board of Chosen
Service Award: Carlos Valentin Jr. (BA'13),
Aspira Inc., of New Jersey
Faculty Teaching Award: Dr. James Davy,
Faculty Service Award: Dr. Yahong Zhang,
Gail Daniels Staff Award: Danese Spence,
Distinguished Practitioner in Residence Associate Professor
Administrative Coordinator, Finance and Administration
For more information and regcognition ceremony photos and videos, visit go.rutgers.edu/spaa-grads-2020
As part of our celebration, we are proud to share the stories of some of our 2020 graduates! SPAA Graduate Anna Agbotse (BA'20) hopes to expand her impact as an activist. go.rutgers.edu/agbotse-ba-20
SPAA Graduate Nancy Pietrobon (MPA'20) hopes to work as a community organizer. go.rutgers.edu/pietrobon-mpa-20
SPAA Graduate Salvador Bigay (MPA'20) is looking to make a positive impact on the world. go.rutgers.edu/bigay-mpa-20
SPAA Graduate Ednan “Eddie” Rizvi (MPA'20) serves the Rutgers community. go.rutgers.edu/rizvi-mpa-20
SPAA Graduate Kayla Calvo (BA'20) was instilled with a strong desire for public service. go.rutgers.edu/calvo-ba-20
SPAA Graduate Claudia Saavedra (MPA'20) plans to continue making an impact on people’s lives. go.rutgers.edu/saavedra-mpa-20
SPRING / SUMMER 2020
SPAA’s Summer Service-Learning Internship Course Thrives Despite COVID-19 Pandemic
This summer, 18 students participating in SPAA’s undergraduate service-learning internship course completed 150 hours of internship work despite the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 and the unexpected challenge of having to navigate remote learning and work simultaneously. The class, taught by SPAA Assistant Teaching Professor Michael Dillard, ensured that the internship experience was a seamless one where students could utilize the weekly virtual class to navigate through their own internship challenges and explore more possibilities to improve their own skillsets. Supported by SPAA’s Writing and Career Development Center, directed by Terry Hall, students were provided with various resources and tools, including resume and cover letter templates, assistance with “elevator pitches,” and advice for navigating networking events. The center also provided information about job platforms such as Handshake, a Rutgers University–Newark employment site resource, to continue looking for more opportunities. From this summer’s class, 90% will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Public and Nonproﬁt Administration from SPAA this year. Half of these graduates will be continuing their
studies by joining SPAA's Master of Public Administration (MPA) program. On Aug. 4, Dr. Dillard hosted students, internship supervisors, and SPAA family at a virtual event to celebrate the students’ accomplishments and acknowledge the role of the internship supervisors in helping undergraduate students navigate these challenging times. He spoke about how SPAA prepares students to deal with challenges that might be unique to nonproﬁt, community, and government organizations. "SPAA is doing everything to prepare students to become public servants, public leaders, and change agents in their own community,” said Dillard. “The program helps them connect the dots from theory to practice and understand what they really want to do." The virtual event was also a testament to Dr. Dillard's multifaceted class and how students have beneﬁtted with not just a work opportunity, but also skills and advice that will help them in their future careers. "Professor Dillard assisted me with every aspect of the internship, whether it was walking through the steps, issues, and challenges, or pushing me to keep going when having a doubt,” said SPAA undergraduate
ABOVE: SPAA BA students, left to right, Gabriella Van Wyck, Terrell Williams, and Ashly Sanchez Sanz, participated in Assistant Teaching Professor Michael Dillard's Service-Learning Internship Course this summer. 4 |
student Gabriella Van Wyck, who interned at Moving For Life, a health organization that brings dance exercise classes to people challenged by aging and cancer. “This helped boost my self-conﬁdence and helped me explore this opportunity more." SPAA undergraduate student Ashly Sanz, who interned at The Borgen Project, an organization that ﬁghts global poverty, was appreciative of the mentoring aspect of the seminar class. "It helped in different ways. I got guidance on how to create my elevator pitch as my internship required me to talk about the organization and its work to different types of agencies,” she said. “The class also helped me build my resume and leadership skills, and, most importantly, helped me to vocalize the things I needed from my own site supervisor.” She added, “Professor Dillard emphasized that we have to be at the top of our game.” All throughout, students felt that the experience wasn’t hin-
dered by the pandemic situation that forced all activities to be done remotely. “While it's not the same as an in-person class,
Professor Dillard was great at making it like you were talking to him in person," noted Terrell Williams, a SPAA undergrad student who interned at NJ Transit in the Talent Acquisition De-
partment. “And while all of my internship activities were done
remotely – meeting with candidates and my internship supervisor was all done by video conferencing and phone – I still
feel that I got a lot out of this experience. In fact, it helped me realize that working in human resources is the career path I
could see myself in. I would like to follow in my supervisor’s
footsteps and become a director of a talent acquisition department for a big organization like NJ Transit.”
For more information, visit go.rutgers.edu/interns-sum20
ALUMNINEWS Mirae Kim (PhD'14) was featured in Nonprofit Management
Philip Nufrio (PhD'98) was selected by Democratic
article “Do Mission Statements Matter for Nonproﬁt Per-
for the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
& Leadership's "Best of the 2010s" listing. Her co-authored formance?: Insights from a Study of U.S. Performing Arts
Organizations," was named one of the most popular articles published in the journal between 2010 and 2019.
Aroon Manoharan (PhD’09) was elected to a three-year
term as a board member for the American Society for Pub-
lic Administration’s Section on International and Compara-
tive Administration (SICA).
+ Manoharan received the 2020 Col Leadership Award from
SICA, given to section members who have demonstrated an active leadership contribution and a strong commitment to
Diana Negron (MPA'19) was awarded the inaugural 2020
Master Thesis Award for her SPAA capstone from the Students New Administrative Professionals Section of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA).
candidate Joseph R. Biden Jr. as a New Jersey delegate Shilpa Viswanath (PhD’19) was elected to a three-year term as a board member for the American Society for Public
Administration’s Section on International and Comparative Administration (SICA).
+ Viswanath received the 2020 Rising Star Award from the
American Society for Public Administration's (ASPA) Section for Women in Public Administration (SWPA), which honors someone early in their career who has demonstrated out-
standing potential, growth, and commitment to advancing
Have news to share? We welcome SPAA alumni news about career,
professional, and educational accomplishments. For more alumni
information and to share updates, visit spaa.newark.rutgers.edu/alumni. SPRING / SUMMER 2020
Experiential Philanthropy: SPAA Undergraduate Course's Take on Charitable Giving with an Academic Purpose
SPAA Associate Professor Lindsey McDougle's Spring 2020 undergraduate course, Volunteerism and Philanthropy, gave students the opportunity to explore experiential philanthropy in real time with real funds. They participated in a student-driven decision-making process with an ultimate goal of an interactive and immersive experience to understand philanthropy, which was made possible by the Doris Buffettfounded Learning by Giving Foundation generously providing the class with $10,000 to distribute to local nonproﬁt organizations. “In the course, we explore what it means to live in a society where individuals voluntarily give of their time and money to others,” said Dr. McDougle, who is the director of SPAA’s Philanthropy Action Lab. “As part of this exploration, and through the generosity of the Learning by Giving Foundation, students were tasked with awarding actual money to local nonproﬁt organizations.” This form of service-learning pedagogy integrates charitable giving with academic study, allowing students to learn not just about philanthropy but also about using it to bring social issues to the forefront, as Dr. McDougle explained. By assuming a philanthropic funding agent's role, students get hands-on experience in identifying and advocating community needs and understanding the value of philanthropic responses to local social issues. Over the semester, the students identiﬁed and advocated for nonproﬁts who have been ﬁghting for important causes within a wide range of social issues, from unemployment to domestic violence. These students followed a systematic approach, outlined in the course module, to identify some of the critical parameters for choosing to fund a nonproﬁt: mission, organizational analysis, measuring organizational effectiveness, ﬁnancial soundness, the organization’s ability to contribute to the community, among others. Even as the spring semester classes shifted to a remote learning format, Dr. McDougle saw that the enthusiasm and passion for making a difference by advocating for deserving nonproﬁts did not wither down. The students showed remarkable resilience in uncertain times and identiﬁed two nonproﬁt organizations in Newark, NJ, and awarded them $5,000 each: Greater Newark Conservancy, which promotes environmental stewardship to improve the quality of life in New Jersey’s urban communities, and Essex County Family Justice Center, an organization that helps domestic violence victims access needed services. 6 |
SPAA Associate Professor Lindsey McDougle introduces her Volunteerism and Philanthropy course at the start of the Spring 2020 semester.
“We are deeply grateful to you all for your commitment to volunteerism and philanthropy, your concern for and commitment to supporting families who are experiencing domestic violence, and for this generous gift,” said Mary Houtsma, executive director of the Essex County Family Justice Center, to the students upon hearing about their decision.
More information on the organizations: n Greater Newark Conservancy promotes environmental stewardship to improve the quality of life in New Jersey’s urban communities: www.citybloom.org n Essex County Family Justice Center helps domestic violence victims access needed services: www.essexcountyfjc.org n Learning by Giving Foundation, founded by Doris Buffett, inspires and educates a new generation of philanthropists and community leaders to effectively distribute capital to local communities: learningbygivingfoundation.org n SPAA’ Philanthropy Action Lab (SPAL): spaa.newark.rutgers.edu/philanthropy-action-lab
ACCOLADES SPAA graduate Anna Agbotse (BA’20) was awarded a 2020 Rutgers College Class of 1962 Presidential Public Service Award. PhD students Meril Antony and Apoorva Gupta were welcomed into the American Society for Public Administration's South Asian Section for Public Administration's ﬁrst cohort of student ambassadors. Professor Ariane Chebel d'Appolloni was selected as the 2021-2022 George Soros Visiting Chair in the School of Public Policy at the Central European University (CEU). Her residence in Vienna starts in January 2022.
Assistant Professor of Professional Practice Diane Hill was awarded a Rutgers Global Health Institute Global Health Seed Grant for the initiative "Transdisciplinary Intergenerational Community Engagement Model for Senior Health Promotion in Greater Newark."
Associate Professor Jiahuan Lu was featured in Nonprofit Management & Leadership's "Best of the 2010s" listing. His article “Which Nonproﬁt Gets More Gov-
ernment Funding?: Nonproﬁts’ Organizational Attributes and Their Receipts of Government Funding," was named one of the most popular articles published in the journal between 2010 and 2019.
Dean Charles Menifield appeared on talkBLACK, a weekly show from coLAB Arts live-streamed on Instagram (@colabarts) that hosts conversations with Black educators, artists, and advocacy leaders from the community. Recommendations from SPAA Associate Professor Suzanne Piotrowski’s research are included in the ﬁnal report of the federal 2018-2020 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Advisory Committee. The recommendation deals with FOIA performance measures and requires a report from the U.S. Department of Justice's Oﬃce of Information Policy and the National Archives' Oﬃce of Government Information Services to Congress and the President.
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor Norma Riccucci was named the winner of the 2020 H. George Frederickson Award by the Public Management Research Association (PMRA).
Rutgers SPAA Hosts Inaugural “Public Servants of Public and Nonprofit Administration” Panel
SPAA hosted “Public Servants of Newark,” the inaugural “Public Servants of Public and Nonproﬁt Administration” panel presentation, on Feb. 25. Six SPAA alumni and nonproﬁt leaders from Newark-based organizations spent an evening at Rutgers University–Newark discussing their careers with over 70 current students. The event was hosted by Assistant Teaching Professor Michael Dillard and featured the panelists: Gloria Horton,
Director of Social Services, Broadway House for Continuing Care; Eileen Scheets, Director of Talent Acquisition, University Hospital-Newark; Cathy Plymel (BA’16, MPA’18), Chief Operating Oﬃcer, Boys & Girls Club, Newark; Eva Serruto, Director of Labor Relations, University Hospital-Newark; Ashley Alvarez (BA’16), Human Resources Specialist, University Hospital-Newark; and Michele Wiliers, Chief Operating Oﬃcer, Big Brothers Big Sisters. SPRING / SUMMER 2020
SPAA Town Hall Meeting Discusses Racism in Public Administration and Actionable Solutions for the School
The COVID-19 outbreak, the resulting economic fallout, and the Black Lives Matter movement have brought structural inequalities and institutional racism back into the limelight. Rutgers SPAA hosted a virtual town hall meeting on July 8 to address how these ongoing issues have impacted the ﬁeld of public administration and the school, and how the SPAA community can come together to move the mission of the school forward in these turbulent times. SPAA’s Director of Public Engagement, Sharon Stroye, started the town hall by asking all participants to think about how institutional racism reinforces the inequities in the systems, and posed the question to the discussants and participants: “As a public administration community, how could we work through some of these inequities in place?” Marilyn Rubin, distinguished research fellow at SPAA, began a discussion of President Woodrow Wilson, Princeton University’s recent removal of his name from schools, his federal policies which reintroduced segregation in the federal government, and his practicing of administrative racism throughout his presidency. Dr. Rubin concluded her remarks by adding, “This moves us from Woodrow Wilson to now – a full century after Wilson’s presidency, we still have administrative racism.” Dean Charles Meniﬁeld opened up the town hall meeting to all participants to hear their views, questions, and suggestions on tackling institutional racism. He asked the SPAA community their opinions on introducing a revised diversity plan, which will serve as a guiding document for faculty and
students to discuss institutional racism and ways to tackle it. He suggested that decreasing racism comes through exposure and associations. "We should increase diversity in faculty and staff hiring processes; engage in open and active discussion about racism in our classrooms; and expose students to reading materials, assignments and speakers from persons of diverse background and from those who offer alternative views to popular sentiment," Dr. Meniﬁeld said. Students, faculty, and alumni openly discussed how SPAA could utilize diverse voices in classrooms and varied scholars in pedagogy and curriculum. One of the takeaways was that SPAA faculty should embed diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice in every topic area, throughout the curriculum. In addition, it was recommended that the school create a certiﬁcate with appropriate courses that address diversity, inclusion, equity, and the LGBTQ community. SPAA students acknowledged how Rutgers University– Newark has done a lot of work to address racism and improve white consciousness. However, SPAA BA student and newly elected president of the Rutgers-Newark Student Governing Association, Dylan Terpstra added “We take some things for granted here at Rutgers. I think white students like myself need to get uncomfortable. Comfort can be put at the expense if we are going to be serving and working for the public.”
For more information and to watch the recording of the town hall,
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RUTGERS SPAANEWS is published by Rutgers SPAA Communications in the School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) at Rutgers University–Newark. Story ideas, news, and comments are welcome. For more news, visit spaa.newark.rutgers.edu/newsroom