New College of Professional Studies degree looks to boost efficiency in government leadership

by Sarah Ferris

The College of Professional Studies will launch a new master’s degree program this spring to train government employees to work across industries and all levels of administration.

The program will prepare officials to increase efficiency through strengthened leadership across federal and local governments and private and non-profit spheres as organizations nationwide face building pressure to cut costs.

“This is the new reality of public leadership. Government leaders have to take into account the need for working across sectors,” the program’s director Natalie Houghtby-Haddon said.

In times of tightening federal budgets, she said, it is important for policy makers to more effectively coordinate the diverse perspectives that influence day-to-day government operations – a trend reflected by the new program.

The program’s manager Rick Henry said the degree would be a mix of traditional public administration studies, looking at “the big picture of how policy gets made,” but with a focus on reaching stakeholders’ specific targets.

“We think we’ve really hit something that gets to the core issues affecting government leaders today. How do you achieve results when you have so many different factors and agendas involved?” Henry, who also serves as the College of Professional Studies’ manager of educational programs, said.

Ten out of the program’s 13 courses will be taught online. The degree will also include a series of five-day workshops on campus, one for each of the program’s three years.

Registration is now open for the degree’s spring 2012 courses. For the degree to launch, a minimum of 20 students must enroll in the program geared toward “mid-career folks” looking to sharpen their leadership skills, Houghtby-Haddon said.

Houghtby-Haddon, also the associate director of the college’s Center for Excellence in Public Leadership and a religion professor, said she hopes to attract “a diverse cohort” of students, including individuals from every level of government.

“In particular with the Obama administration, there has been significant emphasis on improving performance in federal government,” Houghtby-Haddon said.

Henry said the center’s alumni have been the main group to express interest in the program. The new degree has attracted international attention, drawing potential applicants from government officials in India and Ethiopia.

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