Meet Joe! He is a faculty member for our online MPA program. We got to catch up with him and ask a few questions about his experiences in our online program and the field of public service in general. Check it out!
1) Tell us a little bit about your professional background. What made you join Villanova MPA?
My professional background includes a combination of experience in the human resources field as well as experience as an instructor and workshop facilitator. I have held a variety of senior level positions in human resources over the past thirty-five years including positions in both the government and non-profit sectors. I addition, I have been teaching as an adjunct instructor for the past thirty years. Currently, I work in HR consulting with a variety of government and non-profit clients in the areas of strategic HR planning, performance management and executive development. My educational background includes a Doctorate in Education, Masters of Science in Human Resource Management, Maters of Business Administration in Management and a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Psychology.
2) That’s impressive! As a faculty member, what do you think is the most valuable aspect of Villanova’s online MPA program?
Tough economic times call for increased efficiency and better organization in all types of institutions, especially in public sector and non-profit jobs. Both sectors will likewise see more need for professional, analytical, and qualitative skills at all levels of the organization. Less funding and a constricted environment call for individuals who understand how to steer an organization through uncertain times. Since non-profits strive to address targeted needs and issues, communicating the cause to the public in order to receive financial support will be an important component of your role in the future. The MPA from Villanova will prepare you for the leadership and decision-making challenges to advance within the government as well as the nonprofit sector. Students in our program clearly understand public administration as it relates to research, theory, finance, leadership and strategic planning which makes them qualified to lead in the future.
3) What advice do you have for current MPA students?
Public servants play a crucial part in both the government and non-profit operations and can make a meaningful impact in the sector they serve. Positions in the government sector are predicted to become more readily available since a wave of retirements is expected to hit the government workforce. For example, the average age of a federal employee is 47 and as of 2016, nearly a third of the federal workforce will be eligible to retire according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. What makes a professional career in public service so unique is the emphasis on tackling challenging issues/problems. The challenging issues that define the public agenda and call for talented individuals to devote their efforts to finding solutions have never been more significant. Take the skills that you have learned in this program combined with your energy and dedication and create the public service environment that will not only meet, but exceed the needs of your constituency in the future.
We’re starting a new series called “Did you Know?” with information about student resources and services that as graduate students you may not know about! Hopefully these tips help make your MPA experience that much better 🙂
Check out the second half of MPA faculty member Dr. John Kelley’s story about his amazing experiences in Copenhagen!
From the public administration perspective, Denmark can be baffling with its sixteen (or so) political parties. No single party has won a majority of all voters since 1901! This means compromises and coalitions which tend to form along traditional liberal and conservative lines. In the June 2015 elections, ten parties accumulated enough votes to gain seats in Parliament, ranging from 47 seats for the Social Democrats to 1 seat for the Faroe Islands Republic Party. However, by the narrowest of margins, a coalition of the more conservative parties replaced the Social Democrat led liberal coalition. A key player this time around was the
Danish People’s Party which vaulted into an all-time high of 21% of the vote (this translated to 37 of the 179 seats). This latter party’s nationalistic policies of sharp restrictions on immigration and asylum policy have brought biting criticism from the U.S. and other countries especially in light of the Syrian refugees.
But to further perplex our U.S. mindset, the Danish system (along with a number of other countries) grants the Prime Minister the power hold a “Snap Election,” an election called earlier than expected. Often, these are called at moments when the incumbent coalition is especially popular, thus giving it improved chances to win. However, Snap Elections are also called in Denmark when there is doubt as to whether the populace supports the incumbent policies. Such was the case in the June 2015 Snap Election (three months earlier than the last possible election date) and indeed there was a shift in the ruling coalition. Already, however, there is a strong liberal backlash that may result in another Snap Election, earlier than the four year term of office for Parliament members.
Three other intriguing features of the Danish system are: (1) a narrow window for putting up public election posters – “from midnight the fourth Saturday before the election date;” (2) restricted TV time – each party may submit a two minute TV presentation, these are randomly assigned and each is shown on only one evening, followed by a half hour talk by party officials/candidates; and (3) there is virtually no door to door canvassing. Can you imagine what our campaigns would feel like if we adopted these measures? By the way, voter turnout was 86% in Denmark this year; compare that with our 56% voter turnout in the last presidential election.)
Turning briefly to the nonprofit dimension of the Danish system, there are also major differences. As you would expect, the nonprofit human services sector is proportionately much smaller since most services are delivered by the state, such as mental health counseling, daycare, and employment training. However, there is a significant and vocal nonprofit social service sector that tends to play two roles. First, many services dealing with the most difficult cases were historically provided by the church or by voluntary NGOs. This still continues and we see nonprofits delivering the bulk of direct care in areas such as the homeless and addiction. Second, the nonprofit sector is a gadfly with an exceptional wingspan, aggressively advocating for programs in emerging areas of need (e.g., HIV) and in responding vigorously to vulnerable populations. For example, many see nonprofit nudging as the spark that led to the Danish Homeless Strategy, the only European example of a large-scale Housing First program, involving more than a thousand participants.
It is well known that Denmark s not a church going society. In fact, one colleague describes paranoia as “being in church and imagining there is someone in the pew behind you.” But many Danes assert that “community” and “compromise” are indeed their religious precepts. A deep sense of community, well rooted in Danish history, has been identified as an undercurrent that nurtures the social welfare system in this country of 5.6 million. All Danes have a right to have their basic needs met including needs such as education and child rearing. (This “caring homogeneity” has, in the opinion of many, also led significant numbers of Danes to adopt to anti-immigration attitudes, both to preserve “Danishness,” and the fiscal viability of the social welfare system.) Finally, Danes would rather compromise than confront. This makes it possible for the double-figure party system to function and form leading coalitions; this makes it possible for some remarkable alliances between management and labor unions – over 70% of Danish wage earners are reported to be members of unions, whereas our US union participation has ebbed to about 11%.
So, MPAers, I hope this read was informative. Coming to Denmark has been “a wonderful ride” for Nancy and me. I hope that you too have the chance to travel and absorb our global community. For now, however, we wish you all success in the final months in your Fall 2015 semester.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! (In November, we’ll be with Danes, celebrating the ancient feast Martinmas Eve, the evening before St Martin’s Day. Many Danes eat roast duck or goose on this evening. According to the legend, Martin was revealed by some geese when he modestly hid to avoid becoming a bishop. He therefore decided that every year on this day, 11 November, the geese must lose their lives to be eaten.
Med venlig hilsen,
John Kelley, Adjunct Professor, Villanova University & Visiting professor, Danish Institute for Study Abroad
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!
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.