Read below to learn more about him and the field of public administration, or join him in one of his upcoming classes:
- PUB 311: American State and Local Government
- PUB 500: Politics, Policy, and Public Administration
- PUB 502: Public Sector Management
- PUB 518: Budgeting and Finance in the Public Sector
- PUB 578: State and Local Public Finance
- PUB 596: Intergovernmental Relations
Why are you passionate about your field?
Public administration is a central aspect of civilization. Despite the popularized hatred of government, it is hard to imagine any modern society functioning without one. I strive to understand the interconnections between local economic activity, the optimal functionality of government, citizen engagement and participation, the response of citizens to taxes and regulation and the response of government to human behavior. This is my passion.
This field is the nexus of multiple fields. There is economics, psychology and political science. I find myself reading journals from multiple fields to understand a phenomenon in public administration. It is for this reason that I have published in diverse journals. It is also the reason I have found myself on panels at conferences with historians and sociologists. I received my degree from the College of Design and Social Inquiry at FAU where I rubbed shoulders with scholars in public administration as well as planning. My dissertation was on fiscal health and right-sizing cities which combined public finance with planning practice. My first academic position was in the College of Arts and Letters at Idaho State University in a political science department and my last academic position was in the College of Business at Bowie State University in a management and marketing department. This field is vibrant and growing.
How did you fall in love with your discipline?
Interestingly, I had no interest in public administration before my final year of my Bachelor’s degree in International Politics. I was more into the study of religion and culture than how to balance a government’s budget. I wanted to study Central Asia and I wanted to work closely with Tom Gouttierre at the University of Nebraska at Omaha in their Center for Afghanistan Studies. Tom recommended that I get my MPA at UNO since the Center did not have a degree program. I was not enthusiastic about it, but I gave it a try.
My first semester I met Dale Krane and John Bartle. Both professors were exceptional, especially Dr. Bartle. It was Dr. Bartle that showed me that public budgeting and finance is an amazingly interesting topic. When I finished my MPA I decided that I wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in the field. My time at Florida Atlantic University solidified my love of the field and my interest in public budgeting and finance. I also became increasingly interested in local government, especially in the wake of the Great Recession. I grew up in the shadow of industrial decline in northwestern Pennsylvania and, after reading about the Youngstown 2010 Plan, I decided that I really wanted to focus my research on declining cities. This entire experience has been immensely rewarding for me.
What are your favorite courses/subjects to teach?
My favorite course to teach is public budgeting and finance. I am teaching a class at UM-Flint called State and Local Public Finance (PUB 578). I am really looking forward to this class as it combines my dual interests of local government and budgeting / finance. I also enjoy teaching public policy. I am [also] teaching PUB 500 which is titled Politics, Policy and Public Administration. I will enjoy this class because half of it will be on the foundations of public administration in the United States and the other half will be on public policy.
What is your latest or favorite research project?
Currently, I have one paper in revision that is focused on the relationship between urban population and housing density and urban productivity. I am interested in this dynamic because one of the central assumptions of smart growth and smart decline is that urban productivity is a function of urban density. In shrinking cities this would mean consolidating the population in healthy centers which is a highly controversial thing to do. So far, my research is indicating that low density development is more closely associated with higher productivity values than high density development at least for the United States in the years selected.
In addition to this project, I am presenting a paper on the relationship between student debt levels and housing vacancy this year at the Northeastern Association of Business, Economics and Technology conference. So far, I am noticing that many neighborhoods in historically declining areas of cities are attracting recent college graduates for many reasons, reducing vacancy in these places. One of the reasons is the housing affordability in these places as recent grads are unable to afford homes elsewhere due to high debt-to-income ratios.
What do you hope for your time at UM-Flint?
I want to make an impact not only in the classroom with my students, but on the community of Flint and the region. My research has implications for practice in declining regions and I want to be a part of that discussion. My hope is to continue building on my prior research in this area and defining myself within the field. I also want to see our MPA program continue to be successful as we plan for the future. Obviously, this entails the proper education of current and future public administrators who are increasingly subjected to more constraints along with higher expectations. Ultimately, my goal is to get tenure and be a permanent fixture of this program as I work with my colleagues within the department as well as across the university on important projects.
Why were you excited to join UM-Flint and the Flint community?
My research necessitates access to public officials in places like Flint. Being in the middle of my research provides me incredible opportunities to see these projects really bloom. In addition, the university and my Department are great. The people I have met along with the resources available indicate to me that this is a good place to call home.
What do you hope for students in your field?
My hope for our students is that they are personally successful, however they define that. Obviously, I want to see them achieve higher positions and higher pay as a result of completing the MPA degree. These are important indicators for a successful academic program in general. I also want them to feel fulfilled in their careers in public service. I want to provide them with out-of-the-box ways of thinking about public problems that will push them to think innovatively. I want them to do their jobs in ways that improve their own wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of the communities in which they work. I want people who work with our graduates to see the quality of our program through their actions.
What are three things you think people should know about you?
- I am very friendly, but I am thinking about stuff all the time, so if you see me on campus and I walk by you without saying something please don’t be offended. If you see me grab my attention and I will definitely greet you.
- I love spicy food. I can eat non-spicy food, but I usually do so only to survive. When I want to truly live I ask for the Ghost Peppers.
- I have a little boy going to Kindergarten (first and only kid) this year. Big event!!