About Us: Our Students
The Center for Public Administration and Policy is one department serving three campuses and three diverse student populations, together offering our MPA and PHD programs a range of perspectives on local, state, national, and cross-national public sector governance. Our MPA and PHD programs are small when compared with other top national programs, which helps to foster a strong sense of community. We pride ourselves on the strength of CPAP as a scholarly community with shared values rooted in the Constitution and traditions such as our annual High Table celebration. Most importantly, the knowledge and diversity of our students that we believe make the MPA and PHD programs exceptional. Below are profiles of a few of our current students:
In 2005, Tom Sullard started the MPA program at CPAP in Alexandria, VA. He is looking forward to graduating this Spring (2010) at the age of 45, after consistently and faithfully taking one course at a time. His motto is, “It’s never too late to go back to school! Commit yourself to lifelong learning.” Like many other students in CPAP’s MPA program, Tom has a day job. He just retired after 20 years of service with the United States Coast Guard. His last duty station was Coast Guard Headquarters Support Command (HSC), which put many of the skills he acquired in our program to good use! HSC is a unit of approximately 200 plus personnel that provides support services to 4,000 plus Coast Guard Headquarters personnel between two buildings in the following functional areas (Human Capital Management, Logistics Management, Property, Purchasing, Contracting, Facilities Management, Safety & Security, Work Life, and Medical). He ended his tour their as Executive Officer (XO) and upon his retirement he thanked his many professors at CPAP for giving him many new skills and insights that he was immediately able to apply to his job in the Coast Guard. Tom earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Massachusetts in Boston in Management Science with a concentration in Information Systems. Back to top
Pete Bergstrom is a part-time MPA student at the Richmond campus. He is currently serving as Chief of the Business Management Division for the Defense Logistics Agency located in Richmond, VA. Prior to this assignment, Pete worked at the Pentagon for the United States Marine Corps as a Management and Program Analyst leading the Contract Administration Support team. Pete served over seven years on active duty as a Logistics Officer for the United States Marine Corps. He is currently a Captain in the Marine Corps Reserves and is assigned as the Contingency Plans Operations Officer at the Joint Logistics Operations Center located in Richmond, VA. Pete received a BA in Economics from Eastern Illinois University (2002) and an MBA from Liberty University (2007). Upon graduating with his MPA in December 2010, Pete will immediately begin his PhD in Public Administration at Virginia Tech. Pete’s personal awards include two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medals (one with combat distinguishing “V” for valor), two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, Combat Action Ribbon, and various other unit awards and medals. Back to top
John L. O'Brien
John L. O'Brien
A Ph.D. student at CPAP's campus in Northern Virginia, Lieutenant Colonel John O'Brien has a truly eclectic background. He received a BA in 1976 from Roosevelt University with a double major in Public Administration and Music with the goal of working in arts administration. "Like many plans made when one is young," he notes, "this never happened. I worked as a free-lance musician/teacher, toured, and finally enlisted in the Air Force band." He earned an MPA from Governors State University under the instruction of, "a wonderful teacher and scholar named Paul Green," whom he notes is a close friend of CPAP's own John Rohr and introduced him to the work of another CPAP faculty member Charles Goodsell. "During my 20+ years as an officer, I've been to war and worked for the Secretary of Defense but my best job is my current one, teaching at the National Defense University," O'Brien observes. "I've long wanted to pursue the Ph. D. but marriage, children and a military career made this impossible until my assignment to NDU. My early exposure to the works of Drs. Goodsell and Rohr made coming to CPAP a natural choice where I've been a student for three years. My scholarly interest are governemnt reform, accountability and performance management." An active member of the CPAP community, he says he appreciates the diversity of scholarship among CPAP faculty, "from inclusive mismanagement to entitlement programs. Overriding it all is a deep-rooted sense of normative public values. I always have my copy of the Constitution in my brief case."
James L. Vann
When he's not writing his dissertation, James L. Vann currently works a government analyst with the non-profit MITRE Corporation in McLean, VA. Beginning as a Presidential Management Intern with the federal government, Jim's career now spans over 25 years experience in both the public and private sectors. "Most of my professional experience has centered around government procurement programs and managing major government acquisitions," he writes. "I began the program at CPAP as a "sense-making" journey to enrich and reflect upon my professional experiences. Along the way, the program has served up a profound intellectual context for the management challenges I see facing the government every day. From CPAP's foundational context and theory courses in public administration through the capstone course and independent studies, I have developed a research interest in organizational sociology - especially how it relates to the ‘new public management.' In my dissertation research, I am seeking to develop concepts from institutional theory to help shed light on the pervasive problems of managing government contracts." Jim adds, "For me, the most valuable aspect of the CPAP program is its flexibility in offering students options to pursue studies relevant to their own interest. The program is highly recognized for its normative focus in ethics and constitutional governance. However, this is only an essential foundation from which students may continue or branch into other areas - politics, economics, program evaluation, policy analysis, management, organizational studies, and many other areas."
Kathryn Webb Farley
Kathryn Webb Farley was drawn to the CPAP Ph.D. program in Blacksburg through questions raised by her previous career in fundraising at the , , and Virginia's Fork Union Military Academy. She began as a part-time student in Virginia Tech's Masters in Public and International Affairs program in and is now a full-time student at the Blacksburg campus. "I'm pursuing
a Ph.D. to explore questions related to fundraising by public entities.
Specifically, how do the financial and operating pressures on these
public entities change publicness, affect service provision, and
ultimately relate to questions of democratic governance," she writes.
"Academically, the normative foundations of CPAP make it distinctive as
a scholarly institution. My education at CPAP has given me a deeper
understanding of the issues administrators face in making policy
decisions in a democratizing Republic." An active member of the CPAP
community in Blacksburg, she notes, "I believe that the strength of
CPAP as a community is its distinctive culture. I spoke about this at ,
our premier cultural event, and I don't think I can say it any better
than I did then - 'This culture is built from our willingness to listen
to others and respect ideas which may stem from a paradigm different
than our own. It comes from our ability to engage in lively debates
about the field of public administration and shake hands as friends at
the end of the discussion, although we may not agree. It comes from our
enthusiasm for being radicals and pushing the envelope despite what
others may think of us. It comes from our belief that we should not
only talk about what is, but about what ought to be. It comes from the
lasting friendships built over glasses of wine and, yes, maybe some
CPAP kool-aid. This is what has made CPAP such a great place to learn
from our faculty, from our predecessors and from each other as
students. It is what has made us all "CPAPers" for life. It is a
culture that truly believes in celebrating the life of the mind.'"
Susan Maybaumwisniewski is a part time doctoral candidate in Public Administration. Having spent over thirty years in public service, she is enjoying learning about the theory behind much of her practical experience. Her primary interest is in public management and leadership, perhaps a reflection of her experience as a retired Navy officer. She chose the Virginia Tech program because of their emphasis on both theory and practice, particularly with the diverse working student body population who bring a wide array of public management experience to the classroom. Presently employed in a not for profit, she finds the normative approach Virginia Tech uses is an excellent platform to frame this very diverse and useful field.