A Gala to Celebrate: 50 Year’s of the MPA & Impacting Public Service

    On the evening of April 24th, 2023 the University of Connecticut’s (UConn) School of Public Policy (SPP) held a 50th Anniversary Gala for the Masters of Public Administration (MPA) program. Over 140 members of the SPP network were present to celebrate. This opportunity was made possible by SPP Operations Coordinator Maura Maloney and the wonderful staff at the Chrysalis Center, Inc.!

    President & CEO of Connecticut Foodshare Jason Jakubowski (MPA ’01) was the emcee for the evening. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member with SPP. His early remarks noted how MPA alums currently serve at all three levels of Connecticut’s government.

    Keynote Speaker for the evening’s festivities was Senator Richard Blumenthal who had an energetic month of UConn celebrations. Earlier in April the Senator helped welcome the men’s basketball champions to Hartford! His remarks for the evening emphasized how “Democracy is not a spectator sport. It requires active participation & public service.” The Senator added that SPP is essential to the public policy infrastructure of Connecticut in order to achieve equity. 

    SPP School Director and Professor Mohamad Alkadry spoke next and detailed what our audience for the evening represented. Currently SPP reflects the diverse make up of our great state with students of color making up 40% of our cohorts. Mohamad acknowledged our alums stating, “Every one of our alumni in this room has mentored a graduate student, helped 2-3 prepare for an interview, lectured in our classes, or supervised an intern or recent graduate.” With over 1500 graduates, more than half of our alums have graduated in the last 10 years alone. He credits the growth of our program to inaugural MPA Director Mort Tenzer, and the architects of our modern MPA Bill Simonsen, Mark Robbins, Deneen Hatmaker and Eric Brunner.

    The MPA’s programmatic excellence was showcased further by College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Dean Juli Wade. For Dean Wade, the MPA program and SPP have continued to strive and meet the strategic goals of the College including:

    • Climate, diversity, equity, and inclusion
    • Innovative scholarship
    • Teaching, learning, and student success 
    • Broader impacts, service, and visibility

    Provost Anne D’Alleva provided the next remarks and emphasized how SPP faculty are contributing to innovative scholarship alongside the leaders at SPP’s Institute of Municipal and Regional Policy (IMRP). Together their work has promoted student teaching and success while also making an impact on communities across the country. Anne concluded her remarks with excitement towards our future and we can not agree more!

    Prior to joining us in Hartford for the evening, Campus Director for UConn Hartford Mark Overmyer-Velázquez was in Washington, D.C. He spoke next about his time in the Capitol where he helped to advocate for UConn Hartford students. While in D.C. Mark was able to engage with SPP students including some of our Fast-Tracks students who are accelerating their masters alongside their bachelors. At the Gala he talked about how our students are taking their education from the classroom to build and improve Hartford and beyond!

    Alumni Council President Christopher Brechlin built upon Mohamad’s emphasis on alumni engagement during his portion of the program. His words promoted further interactions between our council and students, but also opportunities amongst our alumni. Interested in serving on the council let our Director of Alumni Relations and Development Candace Fitzpatrick know!

    Our evening concluded with words from Professor Mort Tenzer who served as the MPA’s Inaugural Director. The MPA initially was promised as a public affairs and not public administration program. While creating the program he also agreed to the program never being in Hartford. 50 year’s later and you can find our Masters of Public Administration next to Hartford’s City Hall! Thanks to Mort and our incredible faculty and staff the MPA has not only grown in size but also impact. We can not wait to see where the next 50 years take us!