Michael Dillard (MPA'10): "Public Administration is..."
"Public Administration is...
exposing students to informal learning experiences which can create future career opportunities."
Name: Michael Dillard
SPAA Degree and Graduation Year: MPA 2010
Current Position: Assistant Teaching Professor and Director of the BA Program, Rutgers SPAA
Position Responsibilities: Provide academic leadership to SPAA, primarily through demonstrating excellence in teaching, preparing course materials, program activities, community engagement efforts, and conducting related research
How did SPAA prepare you for your current role?
Guided by SPAA principles, I have garnered the competencies of effective leadership to establish expertise working as a public servant. The education from SPAA helped me to secure leadership positions that I thought were well out of reach. Immediately after graduating, I was offered an executive position overseeing the care and treatment of older adults. Thereafter, I began working for Rutgers University–Newark, Office of University-Community Partnerships (OUCP), with inner city youth on college and career readiness, as the director of RU Ready for Work. It was while employed in that role that I was committed to advancing my career in academia. The youth that I coached embodied the same level of drive that I had as a SPAA student. These employment experiences were essential to my current role as an assistant teaching professor. SPAA has provided me with academic success along with the organizational methods and tools that I use today to sustain my commitment to public service.
Why are you excited about your work?
Exposing students to informal learning experiences that are complementary to the academic rigor required for today’s public administrators is transformative. I had my students attend an off-campus class session at Newark City Hall. Amongst the attendees were the mayor, city council, and department directors who engaged the students about the realities, ideals, and objectives of becoming a public servant. My students were intrigued by the leadership opportunities that existed there. Particularly, one student inquired about obtaining an internship and requested a letter of recommendation. She was offered the internship, completed it, and later secured a full-time position. This is what public administration means to me.