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November 15, 2004

New Public Policy Department Located Close to Capitol

Just in time for the 2005 session of the Connecticut General Assembly, the newest full-fledged academic program offered at UConn’s Tri-Campus will open its doors in January in West Hartford, only minutes from the state Capitol.

The Department of Public Policy, headed by Kenneth Dautrich, an associate professor of political science and former director of the Center for Survey Research and Analysis (CSRA), will combine existing master’s degree programs in public administration and survey research and the CSRA.

It also will offer certificate programs to mid-career professionals, in non-profit management and public finance.

The new department will be located at the Greater Hartford campus, which with Torrington and Waterbury make up the Tri-Campus.

The two master’s degree programs, which until now have been based at Storrs, are “traditional professional programs,” Dautrich says. “They deal with real-world problems in public policy, and our research focuses on solving problems in the public sector. The certificate programs will give people the credentials to become managers, give them the skills to do their jobs better.”

And where better to locate those programs than within minutes of Hartford, he asks.

“Moving these programs to the Greater Hartford campus will enable us to exploit the geography,” Dautrich says. “The policy-government connection is too strong to ignore. We’re already an enormous resource to state government. Through the CSRA we’ve worked with the governor’s office, the legislature, and state agencies. And with the new location we should be able to develop more internships for our students.”

The theme of the department also plays well to the geography of the Tri-Campus.

“It perfectly fits the Tri-Campus’ focus on urban issues, community issues, and applied social sciences,” says Edna McBreen, associate vice provost for the Tri-Campus. “I equate it to the Avery Point campus’ offering marine sciences as its research core. It’s very appropriate.

“Not only is it close to Hartford and the state Capitol,” she continues, “but having public policy research and studies so close to Waterbury and Torrington adds to the possibilities, bringing it close to cities and towns that are laboratories for a range of issues, both urban and rural, or in different stages of development.”

One aspect of having the program near the Capitol has already borne fruit: Lt. Gov. Kevin Sullivan recently dropped in to speak to students, and Dautrich and Fred Maryanski, interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, expect legislative visits to be more than just occasional.

“Being in West Hartford should certainly facilitate bringing in some of the state’s leadership,” says Maryanski, who was instrumental in developing the new department. “It will be much easier for legislators to stop in for an hour or so than to plan for a 90-minute round trip to Storrs. This is a great match for the Tri-Campus.

“It also should raise the level of scholarship at the Tri-Campus,” he adds, “creating opportunities for faculty from a number of different disciplines, including social work, to interact.”

Dautrich also is talking to officials in the Urban and Community Studies Program, a bachelor’s degree program located at the West Hartford campus, about the possibility of becoming part of the new department. He is also discussing the potential for interdisciplinary courses with the schools of law, social work, and dentistry, and the departments of economics, psychology, and pubic health. The new department will fall under the auspices of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

McBreen also says there has been some discussion of future under-graduate programs through the department, but she adds that undergraduate programs in urban studies and human development and family studies, currently offered at the Tri-Campus, “feed nicely” into the master’s degree programs offered by the public policy department. She says students could create an individualized major that incorporates a range of the courses available at the Tri-Campus.

This article was first published in the Nov. 8 Advance. Owing to a production problem, however, part of the article was missing. It is reprinted here in full.