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Results summary of NASPAA survey "What does it take to be a good MPA/MPP Program Director?"

In October 2004 NASPAA received responses from over 100  member schools to a survey asking "What does it take to be a good MPA/MPP Program Director?".

Schools were asked to rank from one to five (five as highest) the following categories in terms of their importance. Below are the categories and average responses. The highest-ranked answers are bolded, while the lowest-ranked ones are in red:

Accreditation: Anticipating data requirements and planning for future accreditation reviews 3.6
Budgeting: Advocating for, acquitting and managing scare resources for the program 3.7
Career Advancement: Developing strategies for being “noticed” by an administrator 2.2
Community Relations and Diversity: Engaging a diverse and demographically changing community and potential student body 3.6
Data Management: Understanding and anticipating what data to collect, store, analyze and report to stakeholders, and deciding what to make public 3.4
Interpersonal Relations: With students, colleagues, staff and administrators 4.4
Leadership: Encouraging a commitment to professional public service among students, faculty and community 4.1
Marketing: Developing strategies to recruit prospective students, faculty, and donors 3.9
Planning: For the future of the program, the discipline, the field, and succession 3.9
Public Relations: Representing your program, rather than your own personal views or interests 3.5
Rule Enforcement: Balancing equity with discipline, hearing grievances, deciding what’s fair 3.2
Teaching: Assessing and enhancing the quality of teaching in your program, and developing competence in curriculum development 4.0
Time Management: Dealing with new demands on your time and attention, balancing teaching, research and administration with personal time 4.1

The chart below shows the average number of years professors have been teaching or acting as a program coordinator.

Average Years Teaching 17
Average Years as Program Director 7

Below are the responses to describe their feelings about being asked to take over the coordinator position:

Very Reluctant Somewhat Reluctant Neutral Not Reluctant Thrilled
8% 24% 11% 40% 18%

Skills that were deemed essential by the program coordinators were:
  • How to deal effectively with University administration
  • How to develop team building skills to encourage departmental involvement
  • To effectively advocate for a program within the University
  • How to motivate and lead faculty
  • Learning to listen
  • How to adapt to or change the culture of the school
  • To act with integrity and adhere to one’s ethics
  • Patience
  • To have an understanding of the school’s institutional history and an idea of what problems have arisen in the past
  • Knowing what to delegate
  • Understanding and applying the latest technology
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Working with faculty to help them fulfill the promise they showed when hired
  • Tolerance
  • Stress management
  • The ability to work with those in other departments who many not understand professional degrees
  • Understanding the strategic plan and budgeting systems of the University
  • Developing partnerships that are cross-sectional, outside of the Public Affairs arena
  • Having a strong understanding of the department processes as well as the University’s admission and graduation criteria
  • Take care of simple items first
  • Setting boundaries so that family time is no t intruded on by work
  • Focus on the big picture, and help the faculty do the same

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