Public policy school expands message

The Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration is boosting alumni outreach – not to tap their pocketbooks, but to help students get jobs.

The plan to connect students with alumni, one-third of whom work in the federal government, through career development panels, lunch discussions and individual advising is part of the job for the school’s first ever communications director, Amber Palmer-Halma. She started work last week.

“Rather than the money, I want [alumni] to help hire our students,” Director Kathryn Newcomer said. “We don’t need money. We need to have the perception that you’re really making a difference and doing well in terms of reputation.”

While schools across the University are required to bring in part of their budget through fundraising, the Trachtenberg School falls under the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and is focused less on fundraising, Newcomer said.

Because of the large proportion of alumni in federal jobs – which could dwindle as budget cuts threaten hiring – Newcomer said the school was “gearing up” to keep its near-perfect employment rate through enhanced career services.

The school has had a difficult time developing an identity among alumni, Newcomer said, because its name and school has bounced around for the past half century. The University launched its first master of public administration in 1963 through the business school. It was renamed the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration in 2007.

The school has mostly relied on “word of mouth” to get its name out, but the school will move up by expanding its message, Newcomer said. The U.S. News & World Report rankings for public affairs programs is solely based on peer schools’ ratings.

The school’s public policy program was listed No. 12 in the country by U.S. News in March, making it the top-ranked program at the University. Newcomer said the school would look to jump into the top five by shoring up its image among other public policy schools.

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