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Faculty Spotlight – Professor Michah Rothbart

Professor Michah Rothbart

An interview with Professor Michah W. Rothbart by Michael Fandrich
Assistant Professor, Public Administration and International Affairs
Senior Research Associate, Center for Policy Research, Center for Policy Research (CPR)

What classes do you teach?
PAI 731: Financial Management in State and Local Governments
PAI 734: Public Budgeting
PAI 749: Financial Management in Nonprofit Organizations

What are your primary areas of research?
My research and teaching interests are in public finance and financial management, particularly in the field of education policy.

What research or project are you working on now?
My current research includes studying the impact of school choice on school budgets, the effect of school finance reforms on district funding, the consequences of food safety compliance grades in New York City, and the impact of universal free meals on student outcomes.

What impact do you see your research having?
A big part of my research agenda is meeting with practitioners to pass along my results, hear what questions perplex them, and work to develop new opportunities for research. To me, research in public policy is distinct from other many other fields because its applicability to programs that affect the everyday lives of our neighbors is so great.

What’s special about the Maxwell school? What sets it apart?
The Maxwell School, and the PAIA Department in particular, has been doing “interdisciplinary” before it was a catchphrase. Students who come to study in the Department of Public Administration and International Affairs have access to professors with expertise in economics, sociology, political science, demography, management, and many others. This makes for a very rich teaching, learning, and research environment, because all of us are interested in improving the ways in which the public and nonprofit sectors deliver services.

Has your research or career brought you to any especially memorable or interesting places?
Last spring I had the opportunity of traveling to Hong Kong to present my work at a departmental seminar at the University of Hong Kong Department of Politics and Public Administration. It was my first trip to east Asia.

What advice do you have for anyone interested in pursuing a career or education in public policy?
Developing expertise and applying those skills to make the world a better place is one of the most rewarding things one can do with their lives. I think there are few things more motivating than trying to make a positive difference in others’ lives and you can affect the lives of so many people through a commitment to public service, whether in policy, management, or otherwise.

Career and Academic Background
Ph.D. in public administration from New York University; M.P.A. from Cornell University; B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University

Previous professional positions
Director of Research and Evaluation and Senior Analyst, Office of Postsecondary Readiness, N.Y.C. Department of Education;

Oak Ridge Postsecondary Fellow and Policy Analyst, Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce

Related Links
Michah Rothbart Faculty Page/CV

Selected Papers

Center for Policy Research

State and Local Government Financial Analysis and Management Area of Study – MPA

Social Welfare Policy Area of Study – MPA

Full Listing of PAIA Faculty


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July 2024
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