Michael Scicchitano: Training for government careers

Published: Monday, June 17, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 14, 2013 at 9:17 p.m.

I am writing in reference to Sharon Bauer's recent column in the Gainesville Sun headlined “Questions about county candidate.” It discussed the master's program in public affairs at the University of Florida. As director of the UF public affairs program, I am writing to provide accurate information about this graduate program.

The public affairs program at UF has a long history of training students for careers at all levels of government and for nonprofit agencies. Some graduates have been employed in the private sector. The UF public affairs program has demanding courses that provide students with the knowledge and skills they need to have successful careers in public service.

The public affairs program is located as part of the UF political science department and does award a masters of arts in political science with a certificate in public affairs. There are important reasons for locating a public affairs program in the political science department.

Traditional public administration programs have provided students with technical skills to be a budget analysts or human resource professionals. The UF public affairs program provides it students with the skills they need to be successful in their initial professional placements. Our students qualify to apply for any position that lists an MPA as a qualification. In addition to training our students for their initial professional position, we expect our graduates to grow professionally to become leaders in the public sector and serve as local government managers and agency directors at the state or federal levels of government.

Public sector managers face tremendous challenges to craft cost-effective solutions to public problems, assess and alter programs to be effective in achieving their goals and govern in an era where citizens and elected officials may have profoundly different views of governance. We believe that having the knowledge and skills of faculty in the entire UF political science department, not just a core of instructors in public administration, will provide our graduates with the knowledge and skills they need to be effective in the 21st century.

We are very proud of our program and its graduates. We are gratified that they have careers spanning decades in which they use the skills and knowledge they obtain at UF to serve their communities.

Detailed information about the course requirements as well as information about the program's graduates can be found on its UF website, www.polisci.ufl.edu/PA/.

Michael Scicchitano is an associate professor of political science and director of the master's program in public affairs.

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