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SPAA News & Noteworthy: Academic Year 2020-2021

JULY 28, 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 forefront. Rutgers SPAA hosted a virtual town hall meeting on Wednesday, 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.


AUGUST 17, 2020

SPAA’s Summer Service-Learning Internship Course Thrives Despite COVID-19 Pandemic

During the summer of 2020, 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 simultaneously navigate remote learning and work. The class, taught by Michael Dillard, ensured that the internship experience was a seamless one where students could utilize the weekly virtual class to navigate their own internship challenges and explore possibilities to improve their own skill sets.


SEPTEMBER 17, 2020

Rutgers SPAA Launches Student Ambassador Program to Provide Leadership and Development Opportunities

Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration launched the SPAA Student Ambassador Program to provide students with hands-on leadership opportunities and professional development activities that will equip them with the knowledge and skills to lead public and nonprofit organizations successfully. The inaugural cohort of SPAA Ambassadors consisted of 11 students currently enrolled in undergraduate and graduate degrees across traditional and online programs in SPAA who are earning their BA, Master of Public Administration (MPA), and Executive MPA (EMPA).


SEPTEMBER 21, 2020

Rutgers University-Led Team Awarded $2.3 Million Smart and Connected Communities Grant from National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a three-year, $2.3 million Smart and Connected Communities Grant to Rutgers University faculty from the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (New Brunswick) and the Transparency and Governance Center (TGC) in the School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) to partner with the city of Newark, NJ, for developing strategies and tools to create inclusive and equitable digital public services. The research team includes co-principal investigators Suzanne Piotrowski and Gregory Porumbescu who are the director and associate director of TGC, respectively. 


SEPTEMBER 24, 2020

SPAA Fall 2020 Welcome Back Event Inaugurates the 2020-2021 Cohort of SPAA Ambassadors

SPAA hosted its Fall 2020 Welcome Back event virtually on Sept. 17. Dean Charles Menifield started the evening by welcoming students, faculty, and staff into a new semester and assured everyone that, even though SPAA has gone virtual this semester, its commitment toward quality education still holds irrespective of it being remote. This fall, SPAA has taken steps to ensure that the virtual semester is effective and seamless for students. SPAA faculty and staff have been taking training courses over the summer to work out how the courses can be taught virtually with the same rigor and intellectual discussion


SEPTEMBER 29, 2020

United States Embassy, University of Pretoria, and Rutgers University–Newark Launch $500,000 Grant to Strengthen United States-South Africa Higher Education Network

The United States Embassy, University of Pretoria (UP), and Rutgers University–Newark (RU-N) officially launched a $500,000 grant on Sept. 29 that will further strengthen and support the United States-South Africa Higher Education Network (US-SA HEN). The US-SA HEN is a consortium of higher education institutions in the United States and South Africa that was founded in 2018 with funding from South Africa’s Department of Higher Education and Training to promote exchanges, collaborative research, and other partnerships. The current managing partners of the US-SA HEN are UP, RU-N, and the University of Venda.


OCTOBER 12, 2020

126 Students Graduate from the 2020 Cohort of the State of New Jersey Certified Public Manager (CPM) Program

The New Jersey Certified Public Manager (CPM) Program, administered by the New Jersey Civil Service Commission (CSC) and delivered by Rutgers University–Newark's School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA), had 126 students graduate this year. Even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, graduates surpassed expectations in their "Commitment to Public Service," which was also the theme for this year's cohort. From first responders, to municipal leaders, county managers, and state government staff, all graduates had to face unprecedented journeys.


DECEMBER 15, 2020

Rutgers SPAA Virtually Celebrates Ten Years of the Public and Nonprofit Administration Undergraduate Program

In 2020, the undergraduate program at Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) celebrates ten years of graduating leaders in public service. The bachelor of arts degree at SPAA was a first of its kind in the nation, offering students the opportunity to earn an undergraduate degree with a focus on public administration while emphasizing the importance of public service. To mark the 10-year anniversary, SPAA hosted a virtual event on Dec. 10 to celebrate the undergraduate program and launched a crowdfunding campaign to help increase the number of SPAA undergraduate students who can engage in the school’s newly created SPAA Student Ambassador Program.


FEBRUARY 16, 2021

Celebrating Rutgers SPAA's 15th Anniversary & RU-N's 75th

2021 Marks SPAA's 15th Year as a School at Rutgers University–Newark | #SPAA15
The School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) at Rutgers University–Newark was established in 2006 after providing doctoral and master’s public administration education for over 30 years as a department. In recognition of the 15th anniversary of the founding of the School of Public Affairs and Administration, as well as the 75th anniversary of the establishment of Rutgers University–Newark, SPAA is hosting several events throughout 2021 highlighting our faculty, staff, students, and alumni.


APRIL 27, 2021

Announcing the 2021 SPAA Award Winners

The SPAA Awards recognize our graduates, alumni, faculty, staff, and community members who embody the values of SPAA and a commitment to public service. Please join us in congratulating this year's award winners:

  • Outstanding BA Student Award:
    Ana Olivera (BA'21) 
  • Outstanding MPA Student Award:
    Michelle Amparbin (MPA’21)
  • Outstanding PhD Student Award: 
    Kareem Willis (BA’16, MPA’17, PhD’21)
  • E. Drexel Godfrey Award:
    Jeffrey Layden (MPA'21)
  • SPAA Faculty Teaching Award:
    Dr. Lois Warner (PhD’07), Assistant Teaching Professor
  • SPAA Faculty Service Award:
    Dr. Domonic Bearfield (PhD’04), Associate Professor
  • Gail Daniels SPAA Staff Award: 
    Madelene Perez (MPA’09), Associate Dean for Finance and Administration
  • Distinguished Alumni Award for Academic Excellence:
    Dr. Tia Sherèe Gaynor (MPA’05, PhD'11), Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Cincinnati
  • Distinguished Alumni Award for Practitioner Excellence:
    Dr. De Lacy Davis (MPA’12), Executive Director, The Family Support Organization of Union County
  • SPAA Community Service Award:
    Amina Bey (MPA’13), Executive Director, Newark Emergency Services for Families


MAY 25, 2021

SPAA Students Award Local Nonprofits with Grants as Part of Spring 2021 Experiential Philanthropy Initiative

Students enrolled in Associate Professor Lindsey McDougle’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy course this spring were provided with funds as part of an experiential philanthropy initiative supported by a generous grant from the Learning by Giving Foundation. These students were responsible for distributing funds to area nonprofit organizations that they believe make an important difference in the community.


JUNE 25, 2021

Rutgers SPAA to Focus on Improving Greater Newark Community’s Access to State Services with Newly Established NJ State Policy Lab

The School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) at Rutgers University–Newark has partnered with Rutgers’ Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy (New Brunswick) to establish a policy lab for the state of New Jersey via a $1 million award from the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education. Charles Menifield and Gregory Porumbescu are co-principal investigators of the initiative which will look to improve the quality of data and evidence used by state policy experts to implement policy and program improvements for New Jersey and and focus on improving the Greater Newark community’s access to state services.

MAY 20, 2021

Rutgers SPAA Celebrates the Class of 2021

On May 16, more than 200 School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) graduates were honored and recognized as part of Rutgers University–Newark’s Virtual Commencement. Prior to the university commencement ceremony, SPAA held a virtual 2021 Graduation Celebration on May 13, during which SPAA honored graduates, Pi Alpha Alpha Honor Society inductees, the 2021 SPAA Award Winners, and SPAA scholarship awardees.


JUNE 30, 2021

Rutgers University–Newark’s Debate Team Earns Top Ranks

The RU-N Debate Team was ranked 3rd in the Northeast by the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) for the 2020-2021 academic year. The team also placed 6th in the country for Policy Debate, a ranking determined by tracking each head-to-head competition with all other policy debate competitors in the nation and looking at the number of wins.