Service and scholarship intertwine and have fed each other in my academic and public service careers. I selected the University of Baltimore MPA program after volunteering for the Columbia Association’s budget committee in 2004. Our work on the effects of budget changes on the organization led me to want to learn more. I followed the MPA with a PhD and during this time, focused on numerous land use issues. After 2010, I would leave the Columbia Association’s advisory groups but also served on the Howard County Public Engagement in Land Use Planning Task Force and later the Howard County Board of Appeals, the quasi-judicial land use decision-making body. The common focus on land use and finance has fit well with my academic and research pursuits in flood insurance and program evaluation.
In addition to community service, supporting the profession and the institution are important. I served on the Maryland Chapter Council of the American Society for Public Administration from 2011 to 2016. I successfully planned our annual conference and awards program in 2012, connecting our public administrators to professionals in disaster management, environmental economics, public health, and other fields. I would later serve a year as chapter president.
As an adjunct, it is difficult to serve the institution. However, at the University of Maryland Global Campus, I participated in the Learning Management System Selection Project and as an alumnus of University of Maryland, College Park, I worked with University of Maryland leaders to establish the College Park Scholars Alumni Association. In addition, as an adjunct at the University of Baltimore, I gave a talk at the UB annual teaching and learning day on how to manage a course or research project using state of the art agile management tools.
It is important, as part of my service agenda, to reach out to the public when possible. I have written two pieces for The Conversation, one on the unsustainability of the National Flood Insurance Program and one on the Congressional debate over the Export-Import Bank of the United States. I have also given talks through the Ignite series, explaining the myth behind the Defense Department’s purchase of a $435 hammer and describing Maryland’s stormwater management problem. Finally, and also related to my teaching agenda, I recently gave a talk through the Data Community DC organization on the computational methods underlying our key statistical tools.
I firmly believe our role as educators is not limited to our enrolled students. Communicating our work to the public is critical to ensuring our results are valued, used, and critical policy decisions reflect our latest findings. Working with the public to assist them in understanding the world around them is the highest calling we can have.
Image by Creative Sustainability / Flickr.