Tuesday, December 17, 2013

New Scholarship Announced for MPA Students

The Department of Public Affairs and Sociology is pleased to announce a Student Enrichment Scholarship for Spring 2014. 

The scholarship will be awarded to students seeking a Masters of Public Affairs degree to assist with the cost of tuition, books, and other expenses associated with school attendance.  

The amount of the award varies from $1,000 to $1,500. Up to six scholarships will be awarded in Spring 2014. The deadline for submitting a scholarship application for the spring semester is January 1, 2014.

Questions about the scholarship or requests for a scholarship application form should be directed to Dr. James Harrington at james.harrington@utdallas.edu. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Pi Alpha Alpha Sponsors Comet Cupboard Food Drive

Pi Alpha Alpha, the Public Affairs Honors Society, is collaborating with the Comet Cupboard during its “Don’t Let Hunger Hide Campaign.” Donations of cereal, canned soup, peanut butter and canned vegetables are being collected in Green Hall 2.244 through November 22.

The Comet Cupboard, which opened in October 2012, is a UT Dallas on-campus food pantry that is available to all currently enrolled students, free of charge. Students who present their Comet Card can receive up to four items each day. In order to offer this wide variety of healthy options to the more than 200 students who have begun using the service each week, the Cupboard relies on monetary donations and non-perishable food items donated by on-campus supporters and the outside community.

The Cupboard is located at MC1.604 (in the basement of the library building), and is open from noon to 6 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday, from 2 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 3 pm to 6 pm on Fridays.

For more information about the Don’t Let Hunger Hide campaign, visit the Comet Cupboard’s Facebook page.

Nonprofit Brown Bag Slated for November 22

On Friday, November 22, the Department of Public Affairs and Sociology will conclude its 2013 Nonprofit Management and Leadership Brown Bag Lecture Series with a speech by UT Dallas’s own Drs. Doug Goodman and Paul Battaglio. Dr. Goodman and Dr. Battaglio, both associate professors of Public Affairs, will present a talk titled: “Contracting Out Human Resources in Local Government: Evidence from a National Survey.”

Each Brown Bag Lecture is held from 11:00am – 1:00pm in the Irving Hoch Seminar Room in Green Hall (GR 3.606).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pi Alpha Alpha to Host Former Police Chief

Douglas Kowalski, former chief of the McKinney Police Department, will be the featured speaker at the next Pi Alpha Alpha event scheduled for Tuesday, November 19 at Marcus Cafe in Richardson. The meeting, sponsored by the UT Dallas chapter of the public affairs honor society, is slated for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the restaurant located at 2701 Customer Parkway.

Public Affairs faculty and students are invited to attend the event, which will include a discussion of "Emotional Labor" as well as networking opportunities.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Brown Bag Lecture Series Continues November 8

On Friday, November 8, the Department of Public Affairs and Sociology will continue its 2013 Nonprofit Management and Leadership Brown Bag Lecture Series with a presentation by Dr. Laurie Paarlberg from Texas A&M University.

Dr. Paarlberg, an associate professor in the Bush School of Government and Public Service, will give a talk titled: “Crowded Field or Evidence of Philanthropic Captial? An exploration of the impact of organizational density on United Way campaigns.”  The presentation is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. in the Irving Hoch Seminar Room in Green Hall (GR 3.606).

Organized by Dr. Young-Joo Lee, an assistant professor in Public Affairs, the lecture series allows students to meet and connect with scholars from across the United States.

“The Brown Bag lectures will provide great opportunities to meet renowned scholars and learn about current issues in the field of nonprofit management and leadership,” Dr. Lee said.

Future talks will be conducted by Dr. Doug Goodman and Dr. Paul Battaglio, both from UT Dallas.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Dr. Sabharwal Speaks on Public Administration in South Asia

Dr. Meghna Sabharwal, assistant professor in public affairs, recently traveled to India as part of a National Science Foundation grant funding a study of migration patterns among academic scientists and engineers.

She also has been busy giving lectures on public administration in South Asia. Sabharwal co-edited a new book, "Public Administration in South Asia: India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan," which compiles the work of leading scholars to provide a comprehensive analysis of the public administration settings in that area of the world. 

She recently gave a lecture on the topic in New Dehli. Read more.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Pablo Acosta Awarded William J. Pitstick Scholarship

Masters of Public Affairs (MPA) student Pablo Acosta has become the first person from UT Dallas to be awarded the William J. Pitstick Scholarship by the Urban Management Assistants of North Texas. The scholarship is awarded annually to exceptional students seeking graduate degrees in public administration, urban affairs, and related fields.

Acosta, who is currently enrolled in the MPA program at UT Dallas, will be awarded $3,500 for his academic achievement and efforts toward a career in local government.
Acosta is the first UT Dallas student to receive the William J. Pitstick Scholarship since UMANT established its scholarship program in 1995.

In addition to studying at UT Dallas, he has experience as a Management Intern for the City of Grand Prairie. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Brown Bag Lecture Series Kicks off Sept. 27

On Friday, September 27, the Department of Public Affairs and Sociology will kick off the 2013 Nonprofit Management and Leadership Brown Bag Lecture Series with visiting scholar Dr. Jessica Sowa, Associate Professor of Public Affairs from the University of Colorado, Denver. Dr. Sowa will be presenting her research on “High Performance Work Systems in Nonprofit Human Service Organizations.”

Organized by UT Dallas Assistant Professor Dr. Young-Joo Lee, the lecture series will allow students to meet and connect with scholars from across the United States.

Future talks will be conducted by Dr. Laurie Paarlberg from Texas A&M, as well as Dr. Doug Goodman and Dr. Paul Battaglio, both from UT Dallas.

Each Brown Bag Lecture will be held from 11:00am – 1:00pm in the Irving Hoch Seminar Room in Green Hall (GR 3.606).

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

UT Dallas Pi Alpha Alpha Wins National Best Chapter Award

The UT Dallas chapter of the national public administration honor society Pi Alpha Alpha chapter has received the national award for the Best Pi Alpha Alpha Chapter for the 2012-2013 academic year.

The purpose of the Chapter Award of Excellence is to recognize excellence in programming and chapter management in pursuit of Pi Alpha Alpha’s goals of scholarship, leadership, and excellence in graduate education in public affairs and administration. 

Meghna Sabharwal
Meghna Sabharwal, an assistant professor of public affairs and faculty advisor for the group, said the chapter has made tremendous strides in both membership and activities.

“This year, we had 23 students inducted in the honors society, the most we have had so far,” Dr. Sabharwal said. “This is a result of the awareness and interest our society was able to generate this past year through our various activities and events.”

In November 2012, Pi Alpha Alpha sponsored a successful food drive for The Comet Cupboard, the UT Dallas food pantry dedicated to helping students in need.

The honors society also started a Brown Bag seminar and speaker series featuring distinguished alumni and speakers from the community. The events provided a platform for students to network and form a community with other successful students and academics in their field.

For example, one of the seminar speakers offered internship opportunities to public affairs students at the Dallas Office of Evaluation and Inspections (OEI), Office of Inspector General (OIG), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

In the spring, Pi Alpha Alpha organized a writing workshop for students to teach skills valuable to public affairs and administration careers. The students provided positive feedback and suggested that writing workshops should be held every semester.

Additionally, for the first time, the chapter sponsored three students who attended the 2013 Policy Solutions Challenge USA. This is a national competition among teams of students from U.S. schools of public policy, public affairs and public administration to develop innovative solutions to the most important policy problems facing the country.

The topic for this year’s competition was: “Responses to Childhood Obesity in the U.S.” The UT Dallas students placed third in the regional competition in Little Rock, Arkansas.

“We are honored by this chapter award, and hope to continue the trend and plan for more fun and engaging activities next year,” Dr. Sabharwal said.

Monday, August 26, 2013

PA and Sociology Students Among Archer Fellows

The UT Dallas Archer Fellows for Summer 2013 are heading back to Dallas after spending the summer months interning in Washington D. C. The Archer Center was established by the UT System in conjunction with Former U.S. Representative Bill Archer as a way to bring highly motivated and accomplished students to Washington, D.C. to participate in varied internships and take part in classes focusing on policy, economics, and politics.

Before leaving our nation's capital, Archer Fellow from UT Dallas' PA and Sociology program joined Dr. Don Arbuckle in the Vice President Ceremonial Office, where they posed for a picture while doing the UT Dallas Swoosh.

Esmerelda Sachez, Applied Sociology; Donald Arbuckle, PA; Laura Gorecki, PA; and Evan Carr, PA.  

The VP's Ceremonial Office is a beautifully restored room which Teddy Roosevelt inhabited  he was Secretary of the Navy. The desk pictured is the one used by Richard Nixon in his hideaway office (in a different part of the building) during Watergate.  In the top of it is a hole that housed the cord of the tape recorder that got him in so much trouble. The center drawer of the desk is autographed by every Vice President since Truman.  

We congratulate all three of our Archer Fellows and look forward to having them back on campus.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

PA/Sociology Program Welcomes New Faculty Members

Please join us in welcoming three new faculty members to our program this fall. And be sure to check this blog in the coming days as we feature each one of them in articles designed to help you get to know them better.

Evgenia Gorina, an Assistant Professor of Public Affairs, joins us from Arizona State University. She studies public finance and budgeting and is particularly interested in tax policy, fiscal rules, and institutions. Evgenia’s dissertation explores dimensions of local government fiscal sustainability, focusing on pension liability funding, debt burdens, and budgetary balance. Her recent coauthored paper in Public Budgeting and Finance examines effects of tax and expenditure limitations and the form of government on local finance. Evgenia’s secondary focus, shaped by her past work at the Center for Population Dynamics at Arizona State, includes internal and international migration. 

James Harrington, an Assistant Professor of Public Affairs, joins us from the Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri. He primarily studies issues related to performance management, performance data usage, policy evaluation, and education governance. His research has appeared in journals such as American Politics Research and American Journal of Education. Professor Harrington is currently working on several projects examining the dynamics of performance data usage in public agencies.

Nicholas Vargas is a new Assistant Professor of Sociology. His research focuses on status distinctions that operate as bases of social inequality and social inclusion/exclusion comprising race and ethnicity, immigration status, and religion. He is currently researching issues related to racial contestation, the experience whereby one’s personal racial identity does not match how they are perceived racially by others. Vargas’ peer-reviewed research has appeared in journals including Ethnic and Racial Studies, Social Science Research, Sociological Perspectives, and Sociology of Religion, among others. His research on religion and non-religion in the United States has received multiple awards from the American Sociological Association including the religion section’s “Most Distinguished Article” award with colleague Matthew Loveland. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Fall 2013 PA Events: Save the Date

Plan to attend the following Public Affairs events coming up in Fall 2013. Be sure to check back for more details.

 • September 3 - Graduate student meet and greet reception. Time and date to be announced.

 • September 27 - Brown Bag Series presentation by Jessica Sowa associate professor, School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado – Denver.

 • November 8 - Brown Bag Series presentation by Chao Guo, Associate Professor of Nonprofit Management in the Penn School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


By Katerina Anestaki, PhD Candidate, Public Affairs
Since joining the faculty of EPPS and the department of Public Affairs in 2009, Assistant Professor Dr. Meghna Sabharwal has been very actively pursuing her research interests in human resource management, workforce diversity and high-skilled immigration among others.

Earlier this year, her book “Public Personnel Administration,” made its debut. Co-written with N. Joseph Cayer, Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University, this comprehensive textbook will be useful for graduate programs.  In addition to exploring the field of human resources administration in the public sector, the authors particularly emphasize diversity and affirmative action.

Now Dr. Sabharwal has another book, “Public Administration in South Asia: India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan” co-edited with Evan M. Berman, Professor of Public Management & Director of Internationalization School of Government Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. In a recent interview, I had the opportunity to talk to her about her newest book.

Upon their meeting at the 2010 ASPA Conference (American Society for Public Administration), Dr. Sabharwal and Dr. Berman brought together their common interest in writing about public administration in South Asia. In their book, they address the status and challenges for public administration outside the American borders.

The two compiled the work of leading local scholars that enriches the current literature by shedding light on “that part of the world that works differently,” Dr. Sabharwal said. In view of the similarities between India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and, to a lesser extent, Sri Lanka, the editors provide a comprehensive analysis of the public administration settings in that area of the world.

Dr. Sabharwal specifically pointed out that “while public administration practice and education have become considerably professionalized in the last decade, a useful reference about public administration in these countries that is sufficiently in-depth and well-rounded, is lacking.”

Beyond the limits of the academic work of American scholars, Dr. Sabharwal highlights that the focal point of the book is to offer a local perspective and pave the way to further region-based comparative analyses. Countries in the South Asian region display similar historical, political and governance background and thus, the book becomes a useful tool for public administration specialists and practitioners interested in reforms, public service and bureaucracy in the Indian subcontinent.

Dr. Sabharwal indicated that when public administration books in such regions are written by U.S. scholars, they tend to miss the regional perspective and distinctive features. By following the imperatives and opportunities embedded in the new globalization era, Dr. Sabharwal also emphasizes the “freedom of information” in the countries mentioned in the book, a field where there is still room for greater progress and advancement.

Dr. Sabharwal underscores the efforts and editing challenges that she and Dr. Berman  encountered in their effort to meet the international expectations and publishing criteria. But she added that they were motivated by a desire to add to the content of public administration literature in South Asia.

Overall, the result has been very rewarding given the positive reviews, including a book review in the latest volume of Public Administration Review.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

New Study Focuses on Diversity in Public Administration

Understanding diversity and learning how to manage its complexity are perhaps among the most important challenges public administration schools are facing today in preparing future public leaders and practitioners to effectively manage a changing and diverse workforce, and to effectively serve an increasingly diverse citizenry. While a number of studies acknowledge the importance of incorporating diversity courses in Public Administration curricula, very few empirically examined the extent to which this effort has been realized.

A recent study by Dr. Meghna Sabharwal and two PhD students, Imane Hijal-Moghrabi and Marcene Royster was accepted for publication in Public Administration Quarterly. Their study builds on Hewins-Maroney and Williams’s (2007) observation that teaching diversity is not a missing component of public affairs education. However, unlike Hewins-Maroney and Williams' research that focuses mainly on observing course titles and catalog description of 50 National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) accredited schools, the present study employs content analysis to thoroughly examine the syllabi of core courses for the same 50 schools MPA programs in order to assess the extent to which Hewins-Maroney and Williams' findings still hold if the unit of analysis is changed.

The overall findings are disappointing and do not seem to confirm those of Hewins-Maroney and Williams, suggesting that diversity and its various dimensions appears to be a missing component of the MPA curriculum. Women faculty members are significantly more likely than their male colleagues to include topics that relate to gender and race in their syllabi, and  master’s level institutions are more likely to incorporate gender and race/ethnicity related topics in their curriculum when compared with research universities.

The implications of this study are enormous given that public administration programs across the nation act as a training ground for future workforce and serve as an engine of social growth and development. Failing to incorporate diversity-related issues in our curricula implies that schools of public administration are not doing a good job in achieving their mission. Thus, identifying and bridging gaps in the MPA curriculum are essential if our programs are to prepare future leaders and public servants to their new roles. Otherwise, we might be promoting a curriculum that no longer serves the needs of our changing societies and organizations.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Welcome to Our Blog!


The UT Dallas Department of Public Affairs and Sociology has created this blog with the goal of keeping our students informed on the latest departmental news and events. Future posts may include information on:

·        Upcoming events
o   Visiting scholars
o   Student and faculty presentations
o   Dissertation defenses
o   Workshops
o   Departmental gatherings

·        Student opportunities
o   TA/RA positions
o   Upcoming conferences
o   Calls for papers

·        Student and faculty research projects

Check back often to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in PA and Sociology!