Brandman University Launches MPA Program – With a new twist

IRVINE, Calif., Jan. 5 — Brandman University, a fully accredited adult education university within the Chapman University System, launched its Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree program on January 18th. The Brandman MPA is designed to meet the needs of the 31,000 working professionals serving in Orange County’s city and county government who want to advance their careers and those interested in the public sector. The first class started with 18 students paricipating in the program.

Unlike programs offered at many other universities, many of the courses in Brandman University’s MPA program will be taught by leaders in Orange County and city government, including David Morgan, retired city manager of Anaheim; Curt Pringle, mayor of Anaheim; and Allison Hart, retired city manager of Irvine. Also, former clerk of the court Alan Slater, and retired Judge Jim Gray, will help guide the development of the judicial administration component of the program.

“As part of the Chapman University System, Brandman University’s heritage and reputation has allowed us to attract these influential Orange County leaders to our faculty,” said Brandman University Chancellor Gary Brahm. “We are confident and excited that this will help us to train qualified candidates for service in the public sector and improve job prospects for public sector leaders in Orange County. As with all of our other degree programs, Brandman’s accreditation, personalized service, flexible schedules for working adults and high graduation rates are key benefits for MPA candidates.”

Brandman University’s MPA program is directed by Fred Smoller, PhD, who has been a political science professor at Chapman University for 27 years, and has served as a survey researcher in Orange County. Before mapping the curriculum, Smoller conducted more than 30 in-depth interviews with leaders in Orange County local government, and designed the program to fill the needs cited. Brandman’s program provides a blend of theoretical and practical instruction, so students will acquire knowledge in such areas as land use planning, water management, labor relations and collective bargaining, in addition to more traditional topics such as public finance and public policy analysis.

“Brandman University created this degree program with a simple premise – how can we continue to improve the public sector in Orange County?” said Dr. Smoller. “Brandman is progressively responding to a specific need in Orange County – with a wave of retirements expected in the next few years, Orange County and city governments will need the ‘next generation’ of professionals prepared to plan for the County’s future. The program aids local government employees as they take the next step in their career.”

Other critical skills called out in the interviews were leading and managing teams of people, policy evaluation and research, ethical behavior and a familiarity with local politics. “Learning about politics is not an area usually addressed by MPA programs,” Smoller said. “But being aware of the political context of the area they serve is essential for those in the public sector to be successful.”

The Brandman Master of Public Administration program comprises five nine-week sessions per year, with classes meeting one night per week. With an average class size of 10 to 15 students, enrollees can expect a high amount of contact with their instructors. All classes will include online components and assignments to reduce the number of hours busy adults spend on campus. Students can complete the program in as little as 18 months.

“Brandman University has established itself as ‘the place to be’ for working adults wanting to reach their educational goals. The university’s top-flight public-administration program is helping to train future leaders for Orange County’s public sector. The faculty members are taking advantage of their practical experience and sharing crucial lessons. In today’s era of faltering public-agency budgets, it’s especially important that people ‘in the know’ are consolidating the key aspects of their knowledge and getting it out to Brandman University’s students. It’s a game-changing program, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” said Nick Beradino, who leads the Orange County Employees Association, and who will serve as one of the program’s instructors.

It is nice to see an MPA program provide instruction from all sides of the public sector. Providing a program that gives all perspectives that students will encounter in the public sector will only enhance the quality of management. For more information about this program visit