Josephine Allen, professor of social work and director of the new doctoral program in Community and Public Affairs, talks with guests during the program launch on Aug. 26.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
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New things are exciting, President Harvey Stenger said, at the celebration and launch of the new interdisciplinary doctoral program in Community and Public Affairs, held Aug. 26 at the University Downtown Center.
“Children, new programs, new semesters, the beginning of the academic year, new students on campus and a brand-new program are exciting,” Stenger said. “And when we have something new, we have expectations for them. I’m going to set high expectations for you, because I know you will achieve them,” speaking to the room filled with faculty, guests and the students enrolled in the new program.
Stenger said new programs are vital for Binghamton University to become better as it grows and follows the Road Map to Premier. “It’s partly your job to get us there by adding new programs like this one that are attractive to students,” he said. “This one will fill a need for our undergraduate students who graduate with the finest liberal arts education in the country, but don’t know what to do next. This is the kind of program that will allow that kind of pipeline for our students to stay on campus.
“Certainly, you are in a niche field and have the ability to define your field and what is the best in the interdisciplinary PhD program, starting today,” he said.
The program began taking shape seven years ago, said College of Community and Public Affairs Interim Dean Laura Bronstein, recalling a conversation with then-dean Patricia Ingraham.
“It was not just an idle conversation. It was really the beginning of the process of development of this program,” she said. “I’m a firm believer that when there’s collaboration across programs, products are usually better. But it takes a lot of time and lots of discussion − and good faith arguing − and we’ve come to a really excellent and interdisciplinary program.
“Having these discussions over so many years has brought us together as a college to really knowing where we are different and similar, and where we complement each other.”
Josephine Allen, professor of social work and director of the new program, was the “cat herder,” according to Bronstein.
Allen said the program was crafted to be truly interdisciplinary, reaching out to other parts of the University to find collaborators for the really important issues that lie ahead. “We will prepare graduates to enter a community of scholars who can conduct rigorous research, advance knowledge and theories and design theoretically sound and effective programs and interventions that engage issues of diversity, social justice and power, and find different ways to facilitate the empowering of community and individuals who live in those communities,” she said.
Don Nieman, executive vice president and provost, said the demand for the program is evident. “Six months ago, we talked about starting the program in fall 2014, but we decided to kick off this fall and clearly, with 10 students entering on short notice, the demand is there.
“This program is going to be really good for CCPA,” Nieman added. “It is a way to bring people together across disciplines who share a lot in the value of scholarship and who work at a high level intellectually. One of our highest priorities is expanding our portfolio of programs and increasing graduate enrollment, and creating top-quality graduate programs like this is critical to meeting that priority.”