A Brief History of the MPA Program
The program was founded in 1968 by Hugh T. Henry as the first professional PA program in the state of Arkansas. It was later joined by two other programs, one in Little Rock and the other in Jonesboro.
The program was thoroughly revised and modernized under its second M.P.A. Director Dr. Steven Neuse in 1981 who returned to teaching in 1993. He strengthened the academic content of the program to make it competitive with other regional programs and the program successfully had graduated more than a 150 students since its inception up to that point (1993). The program's past and current focus is moving from a pre-service education to include an increasingly in-service public sector. Many of the state's city managers have graduated from the program as have some of the state administrative officials.
Under the leadership of the state's three M.P.A. directors a unique partnership between the programs was fashioned in 1982 to create the Arkansas Public Administration Consortium (APAC). The APAC provides training and certificate programs among others for public managers (Certified Public Manager program) and volunteer managers. The CPM programs were re-accredited in 2006.
In 1993 Dr. Margaret Reid took over the program. The program's focus has been on stabilizing enrollments at a 30 plus level and assure that students complete their course of study in a timely fashion. Attracting more minority and international students to the program continues to be one of our main foci. The program also has capitalized on the expertise of new faculty members and has added new courses to adjust the program to the career needs of our students. In 2000 we added the new J.D./M.P.A. program, the first in the state, to provide students with legal preparations added career alternatives. The program is beginning a slow expansion into nonprofit sector management, a logical affiliate with other service careers.
The program's interdisciplinary nature makes it attractive for pre-service students by encouraging them to interact with colleagues from other programs as they begin to form ideas about career goals.
In 2002 we created our first advisory committee to provide the program with guidance from professionals in the various careers fields that our students are likely to enter.
The program faculty are active in the Public Policy Ph.D. program, a logical extension for service professionals interested in expanding their education. Dr. Brinck Kerr is the current director of the program.
In 2006 the program joined the NW Arkansas Housing coalition to end homelessness in this area and to provide students interested in nonprofit careers an insight into the operations of a new nonprofit organization.