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, 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.