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Educating World Leaders – A Message from Associate Dean Van Slyke

Associate Dean and Professor, David Van Slyke, Louis A. Bantle Chair in Business & Government Policy

Associate Dean and Professor, David Van Slyke, Louis A. Bantle Chair in Business & Government Policy

Educating World Leaders

Maxwell’s tradition combines teaching and research as a service to students, the profession, and society at large.

by David Van Slyke
Associate Dean and Chair, Public Administration and International Affairs

Public administration is taught differently at the Maxwell School because Maxwell is a unique place. Its larger purpose is to inform democracy and improve governance and public affairs. Maxwell was founded as a scholarly center for citizenship studies, incorporating a full array of social science disciplines and professional programs. We operate in that context — not just administratively, but philosophically and culturally.

Our public administration program educates practitioners while serving that larger mission of citizenship. We provide to the world well-trained, passionate professionals seeking to make the world a better place, regardless of the sector or organization in which they work.

To this end, we take teaching seriously. Only two types of people teach our graduate, professional- degree program students: full-time, tenured or tenure-track research faculty and world-class full-time professors of practice with decades of professional experience. All of our faculty embrace teaching as an important commitment and critical aspect of their jobs. This is because we see our students as our world’s leaders — today, tomorrow, and into the future.

To deliver high-quality teaching, our faculty must be deeply engaged researchers, focused on rigorous and relevant scholarship. As is true at many schools, teaching and research are a reciprocal affair. Research improves the instructional environment and teaching shapes, tests, and refines scholarship. Our research not only advances the scholarly enterprise, but also improves the broader practice of governance. The interdisciplinary faculty appreciate and contribute to the practical application of research. The faculty’s ongoing engagement with alumni creates connections and opportunities to work jointly and learn from the messy and complex work involved in governance in an increasingly global environment. Our commitment to the Athenian Oath, which gives this publication its name, is embedded in our purpose “to transmit the City not only, not less, but greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”

At Maxwell, we are obligated to inform public service. In fact, service is an expression of our broader citizenship and is integral to our identity. Thus, whether we are advising and working with leaders and decision makers in government, nonprofits, or private firms, we actively translate our management, policy, and finance research into practice.

Driven by our commitment to the betterment of “the City,” we put teaching, research, and service at the core of our work, as well as strive to ensure that our students understand more than theory and have skills they can put to work immediately upon leaving Maxwell. This combination is what makes the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs a vibrant intellectual learning environment that has contributed thousands of leaders to the betterment of our global City.


Reprinted from “The Oath”  News and Reports from the Public Administration Degree Program, SU, the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, (October 2015), written by Renee Gearhardt Levy.

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