What were some of the most enriching experiences you had in your 36 years teaching public affairs and administration at the School of Public Affairs?
I had only visited New York City once and had never lived in New York City when I accepted a job offer from Baruch College. For a guy who grew up in Milwaukee and Miami and who had lived in Atlanta, San Antonio and Syracuse, New York blew me away. Becoming a New Yorker – encountering so many diverse and talented other New Yorkers, including Baruch students – was my most enriching experience.
Let me add another dimension: when young people talk about public service these days, they often mean charitable, nonprofit organizations. New York City is America’s nonprofit capital. In moving to New York, I was fortunate to help re-define the field of Public Administration from just government to both governmental and nonprofit organizations. In the mid-1970s, I started teaching what has been called the first graduate course in nonprofit management in an accredited school of business or public administration. By the early 1980s, I was teaching other public affairs faculty members around the country – like a group of faculty members in Illinois – what to include in such a course and what instructional materials were available.
How did you enjoy yourself at the School’s 20th anniversary celebration? Did it bring you back to your days here?
The event was fantastic—part celebration, part alumni reunion, part academy awards, and part mosh pit. A recent Boston Globe article noted that many commencement addresses across New England have focused on public service. No one had to lecture the 400 alumni and friends of the Baruch School of Public Affairs who packed the Grand Ballroom of the Wyndham New Yorker Hotel on May 19 about public service. That’s what they do—and do very well indeed. The nine alumni who were honored – older and younger – have had remarkable careers, but also represent all of our alumni in government and nonprofits, education and health care, and business too.
In the Spring Semester of 1973, two of the students in my MPA course were Fernando Ferrer and Connie Zalk. At the time, both were teachers. Freddy was later Bronx Borough President, the Democratic nominee for Mayor, and a Partner at Mercury Public Affairs. Connie was later Assistant Personnel Director of the City of New York, the first full-time Director of Human Resources at the 92nd Street Y, and Vice President for Human Resources at The College Board. Both were at the gala, and we were able to reminisce together. What fun!
What are the most substantial changes the School has undergone since you taught here? What changes do you believe it will undergo in the coming years?
Many important things have started, and many talented new faculty have been hired. I would like to focus on two developments. First, the Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management has continued to grow and support New York City’s 30,000 nonprofit organizations as well as some 600,000 employees plus philanthropic supporters, board members, and volunteers. The Center’s monthly seminars, its research activities and working papers series, and its newsletter are just examples. Besides, Baruch’s School of Public Affairs teaches more graduate courses about nonprofit organizations than any place in the country, with the possible exception of Indiana University.
Second, our School has recognized globalization’s increased impact on our lives. New initiatives in international affairs and in comparative policy and administration – in places like Turkey and Vietnam – promise a great deal. Baruch students live in an important world city, with the United Nations just blocks away, and participate in a college with students from over 150 countries. The School of Public Affairs must respond accordingly. We have a great deal to contribute, and much to learn.
What are you up to these days?
Being retired doesn’t mean that I have suddenly lost interest in all those issues on which I focused throughout my career. I still serve as a consultant in the management of nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education.
I have a special interest in the good governance of public authorities and government corporations, especially in New York State. I have trained over 700 new board members of these public authorities, like the MTA.
These days we live on Cape Cod, and enjoy the environment and arts in the Boston region. I am also a volunteer on the Development Committee of the Community Health Center of Cape Cod.
We are back in New York frequently. I have two terrific sons, a talented daughter-in-law, and two remarkable granddaughters, all of whom live in the City.
And yes, we travel more these days, especially in the fall and spring, times of the year when I could never travel because I was teaching. Just as examples: London, St. Petersburg, Barcelona, and Phoenix have all brought special pleasures.