Faculty Spotlight: Dr. John Kelley (Part 1)

Dr. John Kelley is one of our faculty members in the MPA program, concentrating on teaching strategic planning and evaluation courses for the program, all while maintaining an active consulting practice. Take a look at where Dr. Kelley spends his fall semesters! Make sure to stay tuned for Part 2 of Dr. Kelley’s spotlight, which will be available later this month!


Dr. Kelley and his wife Nancy on their trip
Dr. Kelley and his wife Nancy on their trip

Dear MPAers,

For over 20 years I would hop into a trusty VW (they were trusty then), drive 8 minutes, greet Regina, Carl or Joe at the gate and begin a typically fulfilling work day at Villanova.

For the last four fall semesters, I hop on my trusty bicycle, pedal 15 minutes, greet Tanya or Louise at the front desk, walk up 54 narrow steps in a 1798 building, and begin a typically fulfilling work day at DIS – the Danish Institute for Study Abroad, located in Central Copenhagen. (Note: Over 60% of the Danish Parliament members bike to work – can you picture that in DC?)

My wife, Nancy (also a Villanova professor) and I have been arcing between Denmark and the Main Line since 2011, teaching and doing consulting for DIS. In 2011, I gave up my full time administration position at VU, and we were very lucky to gain positions at DIS. It truly is a lovely toggle, with Fall semesters spent in this capital that dates to the 900s and Spring semesters on campus with the MPA program.

DIS is a very well regarded Study Abroad program for U.S. undergrads — over 1,100 from all over the US flock to Copenhagen each semester to enroll in DIS which features over 220 courses across 22 academic disciplines from to Global Economics to Graphic Design. Typically, 14 to 20 Villanova undergrads attend DIS each fall and sparing.

With Denmark such a hot topic in the news, especially due to Bernie Sanders’ surging campaign, we thought it an apt time to share some experiences and observations with you.

Hilary Clinton said during the Presidential candidate debate in mid-October: “I love Denmark.” Nancy and I feel the same. We have been treated with open-arm warmth since our arrival. In fact, I remember one octogenarian who, upon learning that I was from the USA, threw his arms around me, hugged me and uttered: “Befriere”…meaning Liberator as he referred our troops helping free Denmark from Hitler rule.

We have experienced some distinct cultural differences, but no cultural shock as we now feel very much at home here. In fact, we are somewhat spoiled, living in a DIS apartment overlooking the Christianshavns Kanal, dug in the 1600s (our 4th floor apartment is visible on the left side of this picture).

Perhaps the biggest difference between our two countries and one that is making news today is the Danish social welfare state. True, the taxes are formidable (we pay over 40% of our salaries in taxes), but we have heard absolutely no disgruntled murmurings from our Danish friends. You probably know that this commitment brings free medical care, childcare, education and pensions, but there are other lesser known benefits. Not only do students receive a free college education but undergrads and master students receive a monthly state living stipend of dkk5903 (circa $900). Further, many benefits are much more generous than we experience with maternity leave totaling 52 weeks, split between the parents. A special job category, barselsvikar, provides for replacements during birth and infancy and is essential in keeping organizations going.

…stay tuned for Part 2 later this month!

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