L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs



Wilder School faculty, students and alumni lead talks at NASPAA

Wilder School faculty, friends and alumni gather for an informal networking event held at the historic Millennium Biltmore hotel on October  17.
Wilder School faculty, friends and alumni gather for an informal networking event held at the historic Millennium Biltmore hotel on October 17.

Ten faculty, students and alumni from the VCU Wilder School led conversations on innovation in public affairs teaching and the challenges of training students to build more inclusive democracies at the 2019 Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) Annual Conference last week. The conference, "Reconstructing Governance for the Next 50 Years," took place in Los Angeles Oct. 16-19 and culminated with a celebration of the network's 50th anniversary and a commemorative video featuring professor emeritus Blue Wooldridge. Wilder School faculty, alumni and friends also gathered for an informal networking reception at the historic Millennium Biltmore hotel. 

Wilder School faculty and student-led sessions include:

“Diversifying the Faculty of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration”

Thursday, Oct. 17, 8:00-9:00 a.m.

In order to effectively achieve the goal of Reconstructing Governance for the Next 50 Years, Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration must have a diversified faculty, that, at least, reflect the diversity of their students. Strategies for achieving this goal will be presented in this panel.

Blue Wooldridge, Virginia Commonwealth University

Jessica Mason, Virginia Commonwealth University

Najmah Thomas, University of South Carolina Beaufort (Ph.D.’11)

David Marshall, Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration

Sandy Archibald, University of Washington


“Nervous Areas of Governments: Addressing Inequities Around the World”

Thursday, Oct. 17, 8:00-9:00 a.m.

This panel convenes several of the authors to be featured in an upcoming edited book which focuses on issues of inequity around the world. Together, the panel will expand our understanding of nervousness in the administration of government services in multiple countries, important historical and political considerations, and specific evidence of promising progress. It considers the complexity of nervous areas of governments, while identifying encouraging approaches and initiatives. The presenters at this panel will cover Islamophobia in France, Turkish migrants in Germany, gender in China, and the intersection of Indigenous and gender issues in Mexico.

Susan Gooden, Virginia Commonwealth University

Elizabeth S. Overman, University of Central Oklahoma

Sean McCandless, University of Illinois at Springfield

Yali Pang, Virginia Commonwealth University

Nadia Rubaii, Binghamton University


“From Diversity to Inclusion to Power:  Assessing the Progress of Women and People of Color in NASPAA”

Thursday, Oct. 17, 10:30-11:30 a.m.

Diversity in NASPAA– an organization that brings together educators representing institutions that prepare students to advance and improve public service– helps the organization to promote core public service values such as fairness and equity. But diversity is just the first step along the road to power for women and people of color; their achieving power in NASPAA also requires inclusion in all aspects of the organization. In this panel, we will assess – based on empirical evidence and personal reflections – where NASPAA is on the road from diversity to inclusion to power for women and people of color.

Susan Gooden, Virginia Commonwealth University

Marilyn Rubin, Rutgers University, Newark

Nadia Rubaii, Binghamton University

Patricia Ingraham, Binghamton University

Harvey White, University of Delaware

Maria D’Agostino, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY


“Strengthening Your Home University Undergraduate Pipeline to Your Graduate Program”

Thursday, Oct. 17, 10:30-11:30 a.m.

Learn how three Public Policy programs, with different university structural constraints and advantages, are successfully attracting top home university undergraduates to their Public Policy and Public Administration graduate degree programs.

David Garvey, University of Connecticut

Catherine Guarino, University of Connecticut

Daniel Smith, University of Delaware

Shajuana Isom-Payne, Virginia Commonwealth University


Turning the SDG16 Spotlight on ourselves:  An Analysis of Policy Schools’ Diversity Plans then and now”

Thursday, Oct. 17, 2:45 -3:45 PM

SDG16 requires entities to “...build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”. These institutions of course include schools of public policy and affairs. Panelists in this session will each share a critical analysis of their own School’s diversity and inclusion plans over the past 15+ years: what has changed in these plans as they have evolved over time in terms of language used, goals set, data gathered, accountability structures employed? Why? What internal or external factors influenced this evolution? We expect this analysis will spark a robust audience discussion about similarities or differences in evolution across programs.

Laura Bloomberg, University of Minnesota

Susan Gooden, Virginia Commonwealth University

Charles E. Menifield, Rutgers University, Newark


Using Data (and Alumni) to Inform and Build Curriculum”

Thursday, Oct. 17, 2:45 -3:45 PM

While there have been unprecedented innovations in how public affairs education is taught and learned, the question remains as to how we would adapt to the new tools and methods that are now available to better prepare the next generation of public servants. This panel directly addresses this question by examining various inputs from MPA programs, alumni, and employers, as well as several innovative assessment techniques, such as e-portfolios, to better equip our students with applied skills.

Myung Jin, Virginia Commonwealth University

Breanca Merritt, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Genie Stowers, San Francisco State University

Robert T. Greenbaum, The Ohio State University

Stacy Drudy, Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration

“The Future (and Present) of PhD Programs in Public Affairs”

Friday, Oct. 18, 8:00-9:00 AM

A panel of directors from PhD programs in public administration, policy and management discuss the state of doctoral education in the field. Panelists will discuss patterns of demand for doctoral education in public administration, management and policy; Changes in degree requirements; Norms and expectations for dissertations; The student experience and socialization, and; the evolving job market for PhDs in policy, management and administration.

Dave Marcotte, American University

Anna Amirkhanyan, American University

Elsie Harper-Anderson, Virginia Commonwealth University

Stephanie Moulton, The Ohio State University

Ron Zimmer, University of Kentucky


“Attacks on the Administrative State and the Future of Public Administration”

Friday, Oct. 18, 1:30-2:30 PM

The American administrative state is under challenge through Supreme Court opinions suggesting substantial limitations to Congress’s ability to delegate decision-making to administrative agencies, sidelining and silencing of scientific experts in the government, moves to weaken agency capacity, and substitution of judicial judgment for administrative judgment. This panel addresses the broader context of challenges to the administrative state, the specific legal and constitutional issues facing the administrative state, potential effects on social equity, and the implications for public policy and administration and the education offered by NASPAA programs.

Edward T. Jennings, University of Kentucky

Sara McClellan, California State University, Sacramento

Stephanie Newbold, Rutgers University, Newark

William Resh, University of Southern California

Blue Wooldridge, Virginia Commonwealth University


New Models for Experiential Learning, Experimentation and Collaboration –or -What is a Tech & Narrative Lab and Why Does It Belong in a Public Policy School?”

Friday, Oct. 18, 1:30-2:30 PM 

Technology advancements continue to increase in size and scope, and the impact on society is manifold. But many policy and analysis approaches remain rooted in old models and capabilities. Therefore, enabling new ways to explore, understand, experiment with, and implement emerging technology is critical for the future of policy analysis, exposition, and action. These capabilities also present new modes for experiential learning and training, This panel will discuss concrete examples of explorations with emerging technology across different fields. Approaches such as hackathons, competitions, rapid prototyping, community science, and crowdsourcing will be covered, as well as the different stakeholder populations.

Todd Richmond, Pardee Rand Graduate School

Mona Sobhani, USC Center for Body Computing

Osonde Osoba, Pardee Rand Graduate School

Fabrizio Fausulo, Virginia Commonwealth University

Robyn McDougle, Virginia Commonwealth University