Grad school grabs new leader

The University announced Kathy Newcomer will lead the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration in July. But don’t be fooled by her name.

Newcomer has been a familiar face around the University for 28 years. Even in her new role, Newcomer is no, well, newcomer. She previously held the position from 2003 to 2006 and once again accepted it in July.

Newcomer – who has won two Fulbright awards, authored five books, and served as an adviser to President Obama’s Office of Management and Budget transition team on management – said she is thrilled to once again lead the SPPPA. She left the position for a year to serve as the president of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration.

“It is the top-ranked program nationally of any at GW,” Newcomer said.

The incoming class enrollment is up 60 percent from last fall, a figure Newcomer attributes not only to the strength of the program, but also to the popularity of, and interest in, the Obama administration.

Newcomer also said SPPPA is one of two schools in the country to offer master’s programs in both public administration and public policy, and gives students the opportunity to work on local, federal, and international policy initiatives.

In the time she spent away from the director position, Newcomer said the landscape in the field of public policy and public administration has changed drastically. New advancements in social networking and the way people utilize the Internet have changed, forcing her to adopt new methods of running the school.

“The magnitude of the job has changed,” Newcomer said. “We had 195,000 hits on our Web site in June alone.”

Newcomer said she plans on using new social media outlets – like Facebook and e-mail news updates – to reach out to students and competitors alike.

“I am going to work in a focused way to broaden our external image,” Newcomer said.

Despite SPPPA’s growing popularity, there is still work to be done.

“I think we are the best place to study public policy and public administration in the country, but we need to be strategic to get more people to understand the talent we have here,” Newcomer said.

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