Tag Archives: award

NASPAA 2016 Annual Awards – Manuscript Award

Entries are open for NASPAA’s 2016 Annual Awards, in particular the Pi Alpha Alpha Master’s Degree Manuscript Award, which recognizes an outstanding manuscript written by a Master’s student. Note that you do not have to be a member of Pi Alpha Alpha to enter!

You can nominate yourself or be nominated by another person, for a paper written in any course! Check out further details here.

Nominations must be submitted by Wednesday, June 1st. Good luck!!

Student Spotlight: Brandon Ford

Meet Brandon Ford! He is a current on-campus student and President of the Villanova ICMA Chapter. His paper, “The Benevolent Administrator” was just selected to receive ASPA’s Outstanding Student Paper Award from a nationwide competition! On top of all of that, he also recently just started a new position for the Municipality of Norristown! We had a lot to catch up with him on – check out what he had to say!

1) First things first, what is ASPA and the Outstanding Student Paper Award?

ASPA, which is short for the American Society for Public Administration, is one of the largest and most prominent professional associations dedicated to advancing the art and practice of public administration around the globe. In addition to the Society’s general advancement of the profession, ASPA members can become even more engaged in specific topics by joining one or more of ASPA’s twenty-one (21) issue-oriented Sections. Example of some of the many ASPA Sections include: Emergency and Crisis Management, Budgeting and Finance, Transportation Administration, and LGBT advocacy.

Earlier this week I was honored to be notified that my paper, “The Benevolent Administrator”, was selected to receive the Outstanding Student Paper Award from ASPA’s Section on Ethics and Integrity in Governance (SEIGOV). I had submitted my paper late last semester to the ASPA SEIGOV Student Paper Competition, which called for student papers that focused on any ethical issue in public administration (i.e. corruption, ethical integrity and responsibility, etc.). After a peer-review and a strict judging process by a panel of scholars, my paper was chosen to receive the award. As the recipient of the award, SEIGOV is sponsoring my attendance to the upcoming 2016 ASPA conference in Seattle, WA.

aspa logo
2) Tell us about your paper, “The Benevolent Administrator”.

“The Benevolent Administrator” started out as one of my assignments for Dr. Perun in Leadership Ethics (MPA: 8300), a course I took this past summer and highly suggest to anyone looking for an amazing elective. The paper is essentially a synopsis of my perspective on the ASPA Code of Ethics, a collection of principles that serve as a guide for public administrators to use in order to ensure that their actions, decisions, and conduct are ethically justifiable. The first part offers an overview of the ASPA Code and examines two theoretical themes which I consider to be embodied in the principles of the Code. “The Benevolent Administrator” derives its name from one of those two themes, namely the endeavor to develop virtuous characteristics in public administrators (i.e. public administrators ought to be open and respect all persons).

The second, and even more fascinating, component of my paper focuses on a critique of the ASPA Code and highlights what I consider a major theoretical deficiency in it centered on Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development. Proponents of Kohlberg’s theory assert that moral reasoning, an individual’s ability to judge what is right or wrong, is developed over time through hierarchical and invariant cognitive stages, and that people operating at lower cognitive levels cannot comprehend or act in accordance to the reasoning of a higher level. In other words, someone who judges what is right or wrong primarily to avoid punishment (a lower level of moral reasoning) does not have the ability to judge their actions based on the idea of a social contract (a higher level of moral reasoning).
In “The Benevolent Administrator”, I argue that the writers of ASPA Code incorrectly assume that all professionals who use the Code are cognitively capable of comprehending the high level of ethical reasoning that are embodied in the principles put forth in the Code. One example is the universal principle of personal excellence. How can an administrator who makes decisions based on the consequences of the action (e.g. avoiding punishment) be motivated to strive for personal excellence if there are no consequences attached to that action? I know that I sound like a big nerd right now, but it is really exciting stuff! From my conversations with the members of SEIGOV, there is even talk of calling for a rewrite of the ASPA Code based on my paper.

3) You also recently just received a new job position – there’s a lot to congratulate you for! What will you be doing now in your work?

Thanks for the congratulations. I just started as the Special Assistant to the Municipal Administrator for the Municipality of Norristown. It is a really exciting opportunity for me to contribute my skills and apply the knowledge and lessons that I have picked up through the Villanova MPA program. In my position, I will be assisting Crandall O. Jones, Norristown’s Municipal Administrator, with numerous special projects and analytical reports. I will also be working with all of the other municipal departments in standardizing operational processes, developing new programs and policies, and introducing new performance measures.


4) As President of Villanova’s Student Chapter of ICMA, you have a lot on your plate! What does the Chapter do?

Yeah, life is pretty hectic right now, but I’m loving every minute of it! For those you do not know, ICMA stands for the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). As President of Unitas, the Villanova Student Chapter of ICMA, I collaborate with our faculty advisor, Dr. Wheeland, chapter mentor, Mr. Bruce Clark (Township Manager of Middletown Twp.), and our members in sponsoring an event each semester to promote the field of local government management.

This semester we will be hosting a roundtable discussion on April 20th from 4:00pm to 6:00pm in Barley Auditorium. The panel will feature several Villanova MPA alums and focus on the topics of public service as well as their post-graduation experiences. Any graduate and undergraduate student is encouraged to attend, there is a good chance that there will even be food!

ICMA Villanova


5) Are there any particular learning experiences or courses in the MPA program that stand out to you?

I do not know where to even bring with this one. There are so many positive learning experiences that I have encountered as part of Villanova’s MPA program that it is really hard for me to choose. However, there are a four that stand out above the rest:

Internship at Whitemarsh Township – During the summer and fall of 2014, I had the pleasure of interning at Whitemarsh Township in Montgomery County. It was my first real venture into the world of public administration, and was an eye-opening experience. Being an intern, experiencing the “real world” local government and learning from both the Township Manager and Asst. Township Manager (both Villanova alums BTW), ignited my passion for the field and definitely counts as one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Leadership Ethics (MPA 8300) – By far one of my two favorite classes in the program (no offense to the other great courses that I have had with some truly amazing professors). The class was a lot of hard work, and challenged me to critically examine my morals and justify myself using ethical principles.

Public Networks (MPA 8800) – The second of my two favorite MPA courses. From my time as an intern at Whitemarsh to my present position in Norristown, I have used the concepts and lessons from this class literally every day. A major component of Public Networks is Negotiating, a skill that I cannot stress the importance of when working with others.

Villanova MPA Community – This one is for all of those just starting or about to enter the program. Pursuing your MPA program at Villanova is truly like joining a family community. I have met so many people and have established many lasting friendships (especially with those whom I shared the joys of Stats I & II). Many of those same classmates are now my colleagues, most of whom are still in the area working in other municipalities.

Student Brandon Ford

P.S. – We asked Dr. Perun, Brandon’s Leadership Ethics professor, to comment on Brandon’s award and his development throughout the course. He said:

“This is a well deserved recognition of Brandon’s hard work in the MPA program. Over the last year Brandon has dramatically improved his writing, and in Leadership Ethics he demonstrated great conversancy in the theories and insightful application. We can all be very proud that he is representing the Villanova MPA community at the national level.”

2014 ICMA Annual Conference

This month, Villanova MPA Alum Allie Bittner ’14 and MPA students E.J. Mentry and Shanna Lodge traveled down to Charlotte, NC for ICMA’s 2014 Annual Conference.

The Leaders’ Lounge got the inside story from our ICMA conference attendees:

Allie Bittner, E.J. Mentry, and Shanna Lodge at ICMA's 100th Anniversary Annual Conference
Allie Bittner, E.J. Mentry, and Shanna Lodge at ICMA’s 100th Anniversary Annual Conference

To kick off our time in Charlotte, we met up with other members of the Villanova MPA community for a happy hour. It was a great time for alumni, online students, and on campus students to connect. Check out pictures from this event on Facebook.

Over at the Charlotte Convention Center, we had the chance to hear great keynote speakers, including historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who spoke about her recent book, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism. We also attended informative sessions, including a special session for MPA students at which we discussed the ethical implications of a case study.

The trip was a great opportunity for us to connect with other members of our local community. We were honored to be invited to attend the Pennsylvania Delegation Dinner, hosted by APMM and PML.

Our winning video was showcased at the Life, Well Run exhibit throughout the conference.

This trip was possible in part thanks to our student chapter of ICMA’s winning video in the Life, Well Run video contest! Thanks to your votes, our video also won the popular vote, earning our student chapter Life, Well Run prizes. Thanks to all who voted, and a special thanks to all the students, faculty, and professionals who contributed to our chapter’s video submissions.

Unitas represented Villanova proudly at the Life, Well Run booth, where our winning “Interns” video played throughout the conference. We were also recognized at the ICMA Student Chapters Administrative Meeting, at which Unitas president E.J. Mentry had the opportunity to exchange ideas with members of other student chapters.

Attending the conference was an outstanding experience. We are grateful for the opportunity and would highly recommend that students interested in the profession of local government consider attending the conference in the future.

Alumna honored: Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest

Exciting news from one of our alums out in Pittsburgh! Ali Saras ’09 was recently named one of Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. This award is given to “the city’s most accomplished men and women.” Ali is a charitable relationship manager for Swanson School of Engineering of the University of Pittsburgh.

Congratulations, Ali!


Ali and the other finest professionals in Pittsburgh will be honored at an event hosted by the Foundation on Thursday, August 14th. For more information about the event, the recipients, and the award, check out this article in Whirl Magazine.

MPA Students Awarded for Service

Congratulations to MPA students Emilia Allen and John Paul Hammond who won the Graduate Studies Service Award for 2013-14. The award recognizes “individuals whose contributions to graduate studies have enhanced the scholarly activities undertaken in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.” Both students were recognized for their work as student editors of the student journal CONCEPT.


The Leaders’ Lounge had the chance to catch up with the award winners:

“The opportunity to serve CONCEPT as an editorial board member allowed me to be a part of an interdisciplinary team and learn about the excellent scholarship that graduate students from all different departments were producing,” said Emilia Allen. “I am very humbled to receive this award. I hope that it will encourage others to continue having an active role in Villanova’s graduate school community”

John Paul Hammond told us, “I first began working on CONCEPT as a peer-reviewer during my Political Science MA program and then moved to being a Graduate Student Editor two times during my MPA program. The camaraderie among the CONCEPT staff is gratifying, as is the feeling of doing something truly worthwhile for VU. Receiving this award is simply a key indicator in a rigorous sense of the academic, personal and professional citizenship that Drs. Palus and Wilson try to instill in the department- thus far it would appear this works, so thank you!  Also, a big thank you to Drs. Hoskins (2013) and Sewell (2014)!”

Congratulations, JP and Emilia!