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CCPA professor to lead national public affairs organization
December 6, 2011Tweet
Nadia Rubaii is doing her part to shape and improve public service education in her new role as 2011-12 president of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).
“It’s exciting and really quite humbling,” said Rubaii, an associate professor in the Department of Public Administration. “Some of the people who have been past NASPAA presidents are prominent individuals in our field who I put on a pedestal. In that sense, it’s a little daunting to be in the same position as people you hold in very high regard.”
The National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration is an international membership organization of programs in public administration, public policy and public affairs. Its 280 members confer more than 10,000 master’s degrees annually. NASPAA’s mission is to ensure excellence in public service education and promote the ideal of public service. It also serves as the accrediting body for master’s programs in public affairs: More than half of its member programs are accredited.
“This is an association that allows for administrators in programs to communicate across their institutions and to look at the bigger picture of what’s in the best interests of the students in the programs, as well as employers,” Rubaii said.
Rubaii, who began her year-long term in late October, previously served on NASPAA’s Executive Council and chaired the Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation.
“Nadai Rubaii has been a leader in the public affairs education community for almost 15 years,” NASPAA Executive Director Laurel McFarland said. “We are honored to have someone with her experience and commitment to educating the next generation of public sector professionals, and to social equity, as our president.”
College of Community and Public Affairs Founding Dean Patricia Ingraham served as NASPAA president in 1995-96.
The position carries a great amount of time and subject commitment. Besides teaching her regular classes, Rubaii conducts conference calls with the association’s executive committee and speaks with McFarland by phone at least two to three times per week. Rubaii also uses Skype to oversee several task forces and works to draft various proposals.
“This is when you have the opportunity to really shape the agenda and priorities for the association,” she said. “I don’t want this to be a year of being a place-holder. I want to go out on a limb and say what we need to be doing. I’m only going to have one opportunity to make a mark on what the association does.”
One priority is emphasizing NASPAA’s commitment to diversity and social equity.
“Like many professions, we struggle to have more people of color in faculty positions or training to become faculty members in public affairs,” she said. “We also need to have more people of color who are advancing through public service positions. In order to do that, we need to invest the resources of the association to support those efforts.”
Another priority is an examination of whether the association’s name is outdated, as the organization is no longer limited to just U.S.-based schools.
“We now have international members and international programs seeking accreditation,” she said. “NASPAA as a stand-alone acronym does have recognition and carries some clout, so we don’t want to just scrap that and start over as something brand new. So we are exploring some options.”
Other priorities include working to increase the value of the MPA and the pursuit of more collaborations across programs and associations, Rubaii said.
Rubaii’s position also will prove beneficial to Binghamton University, she said.
“At a minimum, this will increase the profile of Binghamton University,” she said. “Everything I do as NASPAA president has my name and affiliation with Binghamton on it. It will get people talking about what we’re doing. We have a great program here and I think having me in this position will be helpful in making people more interested in sending students here or applying for faculty positions.”
Rubaii also believes that the position – and the travel that goes with it – will increase the opportunities for international partnerships.
“It’s something we have made a commitment to strengthening in this program,” said Rubaii, pointing to CCPA Associate Professor Thomas Sinclair’s partnership with Shenzhen University in China. “As a department, we’ve said that we want to do more so our students have the opportunity to be exposed to students in other countries and look at issues from different perspectives.”
When her term ends next year, Rubaii will remain on NASPAA’s executive committee as immediate past president.
“It’s different than the work we get into the routine of doing as a faculty member or department administrator,” she said. “It’s nice to step back, look at the big picture and think that I could have a big influence on the entire profession.”