UALR launches new School of Public Affairs

University of Arkansas at Little Rock sign

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock will launch its new School of Public Affairs on July 1 to serve as a hub for UALR programs that share a focus on government, politics, nonprofit organizations, and public service.

The Institute of Government and the Department of Political Science will merge to form the new school, which will be housed in the UALR College of Social Sciences and Communication.

“Bringing these programs together opens up new opportunities for collaboration among the faculty and professional staff that will serve both students and the community,” said Joe Giammo, a professor of political science and interim director of the School of Public Affairs.

Faculty from the political science department, which did not have a graduate program, will now be able to teach graduate courses through the Institute of Government’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) program.

Undergraduate students interested in entering the MPA program can sign up for an early entry program, which will allow them to take graduate classes that will count toward their undergraduate and master’s degrees.

The new school will serve as a home to existing programs in public administration, political science, international studies, presidential studies, nonprofit leadership, conflict mediation, and nonprofit organizations.

“The UALR School of Public Affairs is a perfect expression of our college commitment to interdisciplinary and community-based knowledge and research, engagement, and public service,” said Lisa Bond-Maupin, dean of the College of Social Sciences and Communication.

“Students drawn to a careers related to government, law, community development, and nonprofit or public sector leadership will find opportunities here for deep and diverse learning opportunities inside and outside of the classroom,” she said.

Additionally, the school plans to implement two new majors that are pending final approval. The school’s new community management and development major will prepare students for professional positions in public and nonprofit management, community organizing, social entrepreneurship, and advocacy.

The major will focus on developing student competency in four areas that community stakeholders identified as central needs for careers in this field: professional written and interpersonal communication, managerial skills, analytic thinking, and expertise in urban social science.

Meanwhile, a legal studies supplementary major is designed, in partnership across colleges including the William H. Bowen School of Law, as a second major for students who plan to enter law school. Students will be mentored by law students to help gain critical legal skills and guide their entrance into law school.

In addition to its academic programs, the school will also house the Arkansas Public Administration Consortium, the Survey Research Center, the Center for Public Collaboration, and the Center for Nonprofit Organization.

Jolie Busby, executive director of the Arkansas Public Administration Consortium, said the merger will provide an opportunity for UALR faculty to collaborate more with the university’s government policy organizations.

“It’s a benefit to have improved access to the faculty from political science,” Busby said. “They are subject manner experts in public policy, and that serves our programs well since we draw subject matter experts from UALR faculty.”

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