UMass might create School of Public Policy at Amherst campus

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Written by Katie Lannan

STATE HOUSE — University of Massachusetts officials are considering a proposal to create a new School of Public Policy at UMass Amherst, a move officials hope will boost the profile of the current program.

The university board’s Committee on Academic and Student Affairs is scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether to recommend establishing the school out of the existing Master of Public Policy and Administration program and Center for Public Policy and Administration.

If approved by the full board, which is scheduled to meet Sept. 16 in Boston, the school would operate within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at UMass Amherst. The school would be run by a director rather than a dean and would not have the budgetary independence of a full college.

By designating the program as a school, university officials hope to put it on a level playing field with competing institutions. The proposal suggests that an academic offering labeled as a “program” could be perceived as smaller than schools in the same field, potentially hindering student recruitment.

According to the proposal, 24 of the top 25 public policy programs as ranked by U.S. News and World Report are identified as schools.

The university’s interdisciplinary Master of Public Policy and Administration program launched in 1997, as an expansion of a public administration master’s program that started in 1971 under what is now the political science department.

According to the proposal, the new school designation would respond to the success of a program that has seen its enrollment rise over the years, jumping from eight graduates in 2000 to 31 in 2014.

The proposal says that converting the program into a school would also recognize its rising reputation, pointing to a 2011 social equity award from the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration.

Copyright State House News Service