Graduate Degree Program in Public Policy and Administration Transcript - Part 1
GERTH: Colleagues, good morning. This is the third among three discussions about an important theme in the history of Sac State: The State University in the State Capital. When Bev and I were approached by a few faculty and, especially, by some trustees-- especially two with whom I worked closely on a number of issues over the years-- about moving to Sac State, two themes emerged with frequency. The first was the State University in the State Capital. Sac State had not developed this as a major strength, despite the fact that California was a major player in US national government, in the US economy, and, indeed, even in1984, in world affairs. Some of the trustees were particularly determined about this and they were vocal. The second was governance, especially important again, because Sac State is the State University in the State Capital. I remember saying at that time that when members of the legislature wanted to talk about something having to do with the California State University, they got in a taxi and came five miles down the street to talk with people on the campus. So, Sac State had a very unique role of in the California State University System. So, the State University in the State Capital must be a major theme, an important goal educationally and in academic terms. The time had come in1984, the trustees knew it, some students and some faculty knew it, and especially faculty and students on other CSU campuses knew it, and were pushing more than just a little. As a political scientist, I remember going to groups of political scientists from all of-- from most of our campuses in the '70s, and there would never be anybody from Sac State there. They-- We just-- This campus was not involved and so on. It used to annoy those of us on other campuses at that time because we wanted the faculty from Sac State to be in there pushing for us at the State Capital. The state-- New York had the State University of New York at Buffalo, SUNY Buffalo, with a national reputation. New Jersey had Rutgers University, the main campus not in the capital but a major branch in the capital. California needed a major university in the State Capital and that was to be California State University, Sacramento. I might add parenthetically, it is not in my notes, but, with the development of this campus as “the” State University in the State Capital, we had good support from our colleagues in the Political Science Department at UC Davis. There was some efforts made in the Office of the President by an old friend of mine. He and I had been opposite numbers. He staffed Clark Kerr while I was I was staffing Glenn Dumke in the negotiations of the Master Plan in1959. And he called me and said he couldn't understand why we were developing the Fellows Programs here on the campus. We had really substantial support from our colleagues at UC Davis and that was very helpful.
This morning, this panel of knowledgeable faculty joined by a long time legislative staff member, Peter, our friend, a good colleague here, will address the establishment and functioning of the Graduate Program in Public Administration. The first of these three panels convened in this room eight days ago, and nine individuals explored the development and experience of the Sacramento Semester Program which began prior to1984 and Jean could talk about that, although that's not the purpose this morning, particularly; and the Center for California Studies which over 30 years has emerged as a major player in the life of the State in many ways the Legislative and Executive Fellows Programs and related matters. The second of these panels met here last Wednesday and explored three Institutions and Centers addressing state government and public policy. While it is clear that this is a work about history, it is a work addressing the years from 1984 to 2003, and not beyond or before, for that matter.
Today, you are addressing an academic program created to teach and create a research capacity about government and public policy-- a major step for California State University, Sacramento; and, in many ways, for the California State University as a whole. You have come to this along with other faculty over the years from varied backgrounds. Your Department is, in my judgment, important to the fundamental mission of this particular California State University. Our colleagues at Fresno State have a mission to address agriculture, not just biologically but in terms of economics and public policy and other variables, among the many good programs on that campus. How does Sac State relate to the development and administration of public policy and all the things related thereto in California? I want to thank each one of you for being here to discuss the years 1984 to 2003. Much has happened since then, since 2003. We talk about-- Today, we talk about the creation of an academic program central to the mission of this campus, a program which continues to this day to be important to the mission of this campus. I want to thank Steve Boilard that we have come to know well over the past half dozen years and who has given superb leadership to the Center for California Studies. Steve agreed to be the moderator or facilitator of these three discussions. I will not be a major discussant but there will be a few times when I can help around a point, or will just raise my hand and hope to be recognized. When we finish around noon-- immediately after we will enjoy a simple and excellent lunch together at the other end of the room, and then we will go on with our lives. Onward. Thank you. Steve.
BOILARD: Thank you, Don. So before we start our conversation, why don't we just do quick self-introductions-- starting with Cristy.
JENSEN: I'm Cristy Jensen, and I am a retired faculty member-- was the first full-time faculty member in the graduate program in Public Policy and Administration and served in that capacity from '88 to '95--'96 period, when we were able to hire other additional faculty.
GERTH: Full-time faculty.
COHAN: And I'm , Louellyn Cohan and I was-- I'm a retired faculty from the Department of Government and I was part of the initial planning committee that created and promoted the Master's program in Public Policy and Administration. I taught in that program for the first three years in a course that I see is still there on the curriculum. And I looked at the syllabi, the most recent syllabi, and noted that the-- some of the texts that I used at that time are still being used [laughs]. I feel that I had a key to an early development in the study of public policy because it was just a merging as a major category of academia at that time when we started this program here.
LASCHER: Hi, I'm Ted Lascher, and I-- during the period that we were talking about, I was a full-time faculty member in the Department of Public Policy and Administration. In fact, I was the third full-time faculty member. I came here in the winter of '96, just a little bit after Rob. And I continue to be in the Department and served as Department Chair during the last part of Don's tenure as President.
WASSMER: Hi, my name is Rob Wassmer. I also arrived in fall of '95. And I guess that makes me the second full-time faculty member. I was previously teaching at Wayne State University, at a PhD-granting economics department by doing some work with the city in this College of Urban, Labor and Metropolitan Affairs. And when I left there, I decided that it was time to come to a public policy program and was glad to have this opportunity to come here to Sacramento State. So, I began as an Associate Professor without tenure, progressed to tenured Full Professor, and then have also served as Chair. And then I also direct this Urban Land Development program which is an offshoot of the Public Policy Administration program.
TORCOM: I'm Jean Torcom, retired from the Government Department. During this period of time, well, I became Chair in 1985 when Betty Moulds was tapped by President Gerth to become Acting Vice President for Academic Affairs.
DETWILER: I'm Peter Detwiler. I'm a retired legislative staffer. I had the privilege of being a part-time instructor in the program from 1991 until 2015.
BOILARD: And I'm Steve Boilard. As Don mentioned, I've been Executive Director for the Center for California Studies from 2012 until a few weeks ago. And this is my new career, facilitating this discussion. And to begin this discussion, you'll really want to focus first on how the Department and the program came about. And, Jean, you had been Department Chair of the Government Department. You know, --departments. like the Public Policy Administration Department, don't just happen. You know, there are efforts made and sometimes efforts in opposition. So, can you talk a little bit about how the PPA program came to be?
TORCOM: Well, you all remember that fantastic last play before the half of the Super Bowl this year when Philadelphia had the ball, I don't know, on about the 10-yard line. And the quarterback took the snap and then he handed it off to a back. And then the back threw it to the quarterback who was all by himself in the end zone, so touchdown. Well, I'm not going to throw this to myself. But I'm going to hand it off to Lou, who was a principal, I'd say the principal, along with Betty Moulds, who first began talking about the formation of this program. And then, I segued in. And when I became chair, I worked with the committee to coordinate its development. So, Lou?
COHAN: Well, we both believe, I think, that Elizabeth Moulds was the prime mover in organizing the group that first got together to discuss the development of this program. And while Jean and I were discussing this earlier, I said, “Well, I can't remember all the people who were there, but could you remember?" And we were tossing it back and forth. And I went online and discovered in the archives that there was a academic self-study review in 1992-- in spring of 1992. And, in the preface, there was a nice little paragraph which states exactly who was there and what they thought they were doing-- what we thought we were doing. So I'm going to read this out because it names the people who were actually involved in the meetings which got together. And it says,
During the 1984-85 academic year, a group of faculty began to meet under the leadership of Dean Elizabeth Moulds, then Chair of the Government Department, to discuss a growing interest in establishing a graduate program which drew together the fields of government, economics, and organizational theory and behavior. The membership of the group included John Rehfuss, Anne Cowden, Allen Putt of the Department of Organization Behavior-- Organizational Behavior and the Environment; Elizabeth Moulds, Rich Krolak, Lou Cohan and Jean Torcom, Department of Government; and Peter Lund and Terri Sexton, Department of Economics, and Nancy Shulock, Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs. The program proposal which emerged from these efforts is included in the appendices of this document.
And this is a self-study document. And then, whoever authored this, I'm not sure who that might have been, it might have been you [gesturing towards Cristy Jensen] [laughter], goes on to discuss the issues of whether this should be a multidisciplinary program or an interdisciplinary program. The difference, you know, is kind of arcane for people like us. And it goes on to discuss the evolution of a study of public administration from the time of President Wilson, you know? And it talks about the various issues that arose as the program developed, because this is a self-study some years after the program first got on ]its foot]. And then further on in this document, which I discovered, was an early 1992 academic program review and assessment which was authored by Lou Weschler who was at that time a Professor at Arizona State and a Program Manager of their Public Policy program, and had previously been here in Sacramento at the University of Southern California, which had also a competing program in Public Policy and Administration. And so, these two documents, I think, will be helpful in anyone wanting to look back and see what were the issues that were evolving with our program at that time; and how the program was assessed with the new accreditation mechanisms that were evolving or public policy at that time. Because prior to this era, there was no real program, organization. or accreditation mechanism for Public Policy. It really was an early development, a change from the traditional studies of Public Administration, which rather narrowly focused on organization, personnel, things of that nature, whereas we wanted the program to be focused as much on policy and train people to deal with the realities of a policy-based program as well as with the issues of administration, which were more attuned to schools of business that were evolving. So, that's what I have to say about the early program. I think that Cristy, being-- as long as Elizabeth Moulds is not here with us, Cristy, having been the director of the new program and having to cope with all the establishment of the program, soliciting students and evaluating faculty from other departments and getting them from other departments to teach in a multidisciplinary program, those tend to be the real difficult issues, I think, in the early years. Cristy?
BOILARD: Actually, before we getting to Cristy, quick question. When you talk about within the Government Department, looking at the [inaudible] of creating a master's, was there Master's in Government already?
COHAN: Yes, there were.
BOILARD: So that had already been around for a while. So what you're really talking about is a different Master's degree that's going to be either multi or interdisciplinary--
COHAN: Right. And also, we had shed the public administration program, which was part of our program, which had also evolved, I guess, from the Criminal Justice Department, which was down the hall from us. And there was some conflict in our Department, who didn't think that it was the role of the Department of Government to be focused so much on the practicality, you know, training of people for service in government. You know, interestingly enough, our program-- the Department of Government-- was very heavily weighted and I think dominated by faculty who were in public theory-- political theory-- and in public law. And they had a kind of attitude of superiority [laughs], I think, over people who were interested in the nuts and bolts of policy development.
TORCOM: Yeah. A couple of weeks ago at our first session, we came to refer to that as the plumbing of government. And Lou is absolutely right, which is why-- and also the fact that this was going to be a multidisciplinary program-- we never even tried to establish it as a separate Master's within the department; because we knew there would be this considerable resistance from most of our faculty, which is why it was going to be created as an independent, stand alone, with support from these various different departments.
COHAN: And in the Government Department at that time, as well, there weren't very many courses which focused on policy, on public policy. I had inherited, as a new faculty member, coming into the department around the time of the retirement of James Bell, who taught a course in public policy. And I kind of inherited his course and developed it in a slightly different way. But of all the courses we had, you know, other than foreign policy, there wasn't anything that focused very much on, you know, domestic public policy at all. And eventually, Betty was teaching a course on crime and punishment policy, basically. And that was one other course. But outside of foreign policy, there was very little focus on the substance of policy and the development of policy to address the problems that the country was facing. So--
GERTH: I'd like to [inaudible] a comment-- that is, as we were coming here in '84, for obvious reasons, I inquired about the various fields within political science. And learned that there were two faculty members in what was then the School of Business who were teaching courses that had the words "public administration." And those must be the courses. So I asked to meet with both of those faculty members. And having had a few-- not very many-- public administration was not my primary field, when I was doing the doctorate. But having had-- one of my courses was taught by Leonard White who really is the one of the founders of the field of Public Administration in this country. I was surprised by what was being taught in the School
of Business with the label "public administration" because it really wasn't my sense at least of what public administration is all about, and so on. So, that was sort of a piece out there floating. The faculty members in Business who were involved in this were not terribly interested in it, to be honest. But they were doing it because it was part of their duty, their assignment within their particular department in the School of Business. So, I interrupted.
JENSEN: Well, this gives me an opportunity though that-- to address the-- that fundamental model changing, paradigm changing, that we were about. And I think it was very-- everything that Lou and Jean and Don have said, you know, speak to that. In 1989, when we admitted the first students, there was-- there were only Master of Public Administration programs in the CSU. And that continued, I think, until San Luis Obispo in the mid '90s to late '90s established a Master's of Public Policy. Long Beach has since incorporated the duality into their title. But they really were traditional Public Administration. So—And, to be totally honest, during that period of time, Master's of Public Administration were kind of a couple of steps below what Berkeley offered in School of Public Policy. You remember Liz Hill, who I think was also a part of this committee, was known as hiring Berkeley grads, Berkeley Public Policy grads. I don't know the percentages. And I think there always was a little bit of classism about that. So I think the idea of integrating those fields, acknowledging the importance of each of those disciplines—inter-disciplinary backgrounds-- made us really powerful; and caught the attention, which was one of the things that I think in starting something new, what you're trying to do is to signal a newness and an attention to something, caught the attention of Albany, the La Follette Institute, LBJ School. You know, there-- So-- And this led to some other important things that we did. But I really do-- I know that within the CSU System in California, we were really a model breaker or a new model developer. So I just wanted to reinforce that. The other thing that was so critical is that that in that group of six faculty, part-time faculty, that supplemented me—or I supplemented them, it was truly a-- I felt a strong continuing partnership and support base for the program as we started. I had most of the administrative responsibility, but it was people like Jean Torcom that kind of kept those that might want to nip at our heels at bay a little bit. You know, who was-- in a very quiet, non-authoritarian way, she sort of helped smooth some of that. I think that she and other long-time faculty members in the College of Letters and Sciences talked with Cecilia Gray and Bill Sullivan at-- the Dean of that department--at appropriate times-- to either say, let's give Cristy and the new PPA program a little more freedom or let's not-- let's find ways to make things happen. And I think that, along with the kind of intellectual camaraderie in that group of six. I agree with you [Don Gerth] generally about business schools and PA, but I think it would be a mistake to-- or it would be not fair to-- it would be unfair to not recognize the contributions of Anne Cowden. Anne had a PhD in Public Administration through USC, came to Sac State right before Don came, I think, and was really critical in bringing that commitment to public administration, was a strong supporter and person involved. And so, I wanted-- the other thing I wanted to-- and then we can into some of the outreach and stuff later, but the other thing is that I think that-- and this was so significant to the things that Don was trying-- I think trying to do was to kind of break molds and create new ways of acting and doing. So, one of the things that I remember we struggled with a little bit was who are these people, like Jean, well, like Lou Cohan and Anne Cowden? Were they going to have joint appointments or were they sort of on loan from their departments? How are their departments going to recognize and reward their activities? How important was it to the tenure committee or the promotion committee of the Government Department or Economics Department? So they're a-- how was faculty workload to be counted? Because we were-- I think the only full-time graduate program that didn't have an undergraduate supply line of FTE. So, how are we to handle workload issues, FTE issues, resource allocation issues, joint appointments? And I think we struggled with that and made things work, I think, out of the trust of people. But we didn't ever move-- You know, now, in looking at our new downtown presence in the school, maybe the School of Public Affairs or something, there are still those issues of how would joint appointments, how would a larger universe of a structure or a more flexible organizational structure-- work? And I just-- I'd want to emphasize that. And one last thing in that early period, structurally, I think to be totally-- and since we're being handed, I think that we benefited enormously from a laissez-faire style of the Dean at that time of the College of Arts and Sciences--the College of Letters and Sciences. The College of Letters and Sciences was 36 departments then. It was not separated into three colleges. And Bill Sullivan, who alternately drove me crazy and I loved him dearly, because he-- his inclination was to give flexibility. And he wasn't generally known on campus, I don't think necessarily, for being so flexible; but whether it was laissez-faire style, there was-- so my husband used to-- he was in the UC system-- he used to say, when I complained sometimes about not getting something I wanted from the Dean-- he'd say, Yes, but he's not on your-- looking over your shoulder, he's not second guessing you, he's letting you have, to take some room, and trusting the faculty. And I-- the longer I stayed in the position, the more I realized—apologies to Ted, who is now Dean-- , that, that a Dean has a really interesting role in that. I think that's something—when you think about change and incentives and structures that we have.
BOILARD: So, Cristy, something on the structure. When-- we talk about creating this program, so at the-- and you're saying, you know, there was some talk about the Government Department isn't as interested in, you know, in this kind of a program and how the Dean views this. Was the program established coincident with the Department-- so a Department is created out of whole cloth to house this program? Or--
JENSEN: We weren't-- It was very interesting-- we were not a department until, I think really, until Rob and Ted came and we sort of had more of the bulk, if you will, or the critical mass research. We were a program.
LASCHER: It was actually when I was Chair that we applied to be a Department.
BOILARD: So how did the program-- I mean, you raised these questions about joint appointments and all the rest of it. It's kind of neither fish nor fowl, it's within the College or is it?
JENSEN: Right. And I think we were probably the only program in that-- or Gerontology may have started as a program, but they were in another college.
TORCOM: So it was a tremendous help that the upper administration very much wanted this program.
JENSEN: Yeah, absolutely.
TORCOM: And so it got support that way. And I'm sure Bill Sullivan was aware of that. So there were advantages to being in a College that had 36 departments and you--
TORCOM: -- as you said you didn't get. And he was a more or less easy going fellow. He was not authoritarian at all. And that may be one of the reasons that the University wanted to split us up into three separate colleges because that span of control, it's easier to have control and it's a smaller span, so.
BOILARD: So where was your-- where was your appointment --actually?
JENSEN: And see this is where my greenness in this whole thing-- I didn’t understand the issue of workload. And I-- the first couple of years, I was teaching twice the workload because I didn't understand that if you--
DETWILER: And nobody told you.
JENSEN: Nobody told me, no. And that may be part of the deal.
BOILARD: But you were hired formally as Chair of the Department?
JENSEN: No, I was a professor. I don't think I was hired-- I mean, I was-- my responsibilities were as Chair.
BOILARD: But you were just-- you were a faculty member assigned to teach Public Policy and Administration
JENSEN: I was a faculty member assigned to--
TORCOM: Well, didn't they call you a Director of--
[unknown speaker] : OK.
GERTH: She was very clearly the lead faculty member in developing this new program. But it was not a separate department.
BOILARD: I see.
GERTH: Fortunately, Jean was chair of the Department-- of the Government Department, and very supportive of the PA program. By this time, Betty was a senior administrator at the University level. She was certainly supportive.
TORCOM: She was supportive because it was, you know, largely her idea and Lou's idea in the first place.
TORCOM: But because we knew-- I mean, I did not serve on the hiring committee. I convened it, because it would not have been tolerable, I think, amongst our colleagues in the Government Department as if we were approving this and taking the lead to establish it. So, I was just a paper pusher.
DETWILER: You know, last week, I was on another panel, people kind of shared their creation myths about, you know, the origin myth of programs. And, sometimes, we could go back last week and say, oh, there was this particular phone call and that made all the difference or that meeting with President Gerth. Is there something like that in the Elizabeth Moulds and Lou Cohan story? Was there some revelation moment where you said, you know, that's what we need?
COHAN: Well, I don't think so as I recall. But Betty really was the prime mover. And I spoke to her because I knew she wasn't going to be on this panel. And she said that she-- dealing with the School of Business, only it wasn't the School of Business yet-- they weren't very, you know, positively inclined toward this program because they had a Public Administration and they didn't want to share. And, she said, at a certain point, you know, there was a decision there-- well, they didn't care too much, go ahead and try, and do what you want to do, you know, essentially. So that maybe that-- when she got through the School of Business or the College of Business, she felt that they-- we have the opportunity to do it. But-- and she-- you know, she wasn't really clear as to what was the thing that changed the mind of the leadership. And yet, you know, some of the things that Cristy is talking about is addressed in Lou Weschler's first evaluation of the program. And after going through a list of the strengths of the program and the mission and the vision, he says,
[Cohan reading from the report]. . . found program weaknesses— has several weaknesses. It lacks sufficient core faculty, for sure; continuous participating faculty to offer coherent high quality experience semester after semester. Faculty workload is high and mediates against voluntary participation in the MPPA.
And then we were also going through a period at that time when there was a stringency in the budget state-wide. And all the requests had to compete against everybody else. And there was no incentive to retain the best participating faculty from other departments and programs because they-- you know, they felt under the gun in their own departments. They had a heavy-- and here is Cristy, you know, teaching way over the normal load and not being aware that she was; doing all kinds of things, you know, and mentoring these students. And the students were difficult as a group as well, because they were coming from all different undergraduate programs. They had to be brought up to speed. Their lack of trainings very frequently in economics was a very serious problem. You know, they had to have prerequisites to fulfill before they could even think of the-- you know, dealing with microeconomics and so forth. And so, you know, there were special problems with this program that you wouldn't have in all the other programs in the early stages of it. And he-- and Weschler talks about the necessity of having a core faculty and how many faculty that should be and the competitiveness of this program in the same place as SC at the time, which had an established program, and the lack of funding, you know? And that was a major factor. And the ability to make contacts with departments around the city was very, very narrow, you know, and kind of half-organized faculty, which was associated definitely with this program. And I imagine that some of those issues are, you know, are still with us probably after all these years.
BOILARD: So Cristy, in your position, were you reporting directly to the Dean then? Or I'm just trying to think about this-- in these early stages, you know, this kind of this amorphous program that's not really housed anywhere and--
JENSEN: Yeah. I think that's true.
BOILARD: -- you are the entire full-time faculty and you're kind of serving the role as Chair and you're kind of making-- I mean, are you in communication with the president's office a lot during this period?
JENSEN: Yes. It was an interesting-- The role of kind of being-- I remember one time, Anne Cowden at a faculty meeting said to me that my reports-- the part-time faculty-- sounded like a review of my lunch dates for the previous two weeks. You know, and it was true. I mean, I was-- you know, I had been involved in the University of California, I had involved a graduate student who taught at USC. So I knew a lot of people like Peter in Sacramento. And those-- so much of it was personal in those days-- because you're right, I mean, there-- we were sort of just-- we were out there, and it depended on the strength of the relationships, you know, the trust of the people and the outreach. So it was a-- you know, like Lou Weschler, he was my undergraduate teacher that first introduced me to the whole exciting field. So when it came time to have our first academic reviewer, we knew that-- I mean, we knew that Lou was the person we wanted to get to be the outside reviewer in all of those kind of relationship-- built things. And as I've said before, I think the only time that I really-- I met with Bill Sullivan with regard to my annual review, you know, for retention. There was a special committee made up of these people [gesturing to Lou Cohan] that reviewed my tenure-- my promotion kind of processes. So they're-- everything was a bit ad hoc, maybe that's--
TORCOM: Well, where were you located office space-wise right away? I mean, we remember--
JENSEN: I-- Don found-- I remember this. Don and Betty sort of-- there was Manny Gale was starting a Gerontology program and he was sort of in the same situation that I was in, in the sense that he was the only full-time faculty member. He was in Social Work, but-- so there were similarities to what he was trying to do and I was trying-- So, I had a half-time secretary and he didn't have any secretary. So we got space over in the temporaries along the levee for about four years until we moved into the business building, Tahoe Hall. We shared a secretary, who liked Manny more than she liked me. But it was all, you know, very, again, ad hoc, because Gerontology was in a different College. We just made it work. So--
TORCOM: It's really impressive that you brought the program along being relegate out there to the temporaries.
TORCOM: It was not a good place to be.
COHAN: Well, this is what Lou [Weschler] says,
[Cohan reading from Weschler report] Its existence depends upon informal commitments and agreements that do not always pan out. The coordinator is overcommitted and has taken too much upon herself. The main issue here is lack of committed faculty resources. The MPPA needs a core faculty of four to five to do its job and fulfill its mission.
So it was tough.
BOILARD: Somehow, somehow in response to that, Rob comes along and we double the--
COHAN: Doubled the faculty.
BOILARD: Ted came-- You were third, right?
[multiple speakers]: [crosstalk indicating agreement]
LASCHER: Actually at the same time--
[multiple speakers]: [crosstalk indicating agreement]
LASCHER -- but at the time, we had a one-year-old and an infant. And so, I asked, actually, if I could have an extension. I mean, I actually remember talking to Rob in about-- you know, we were both talking. Should we-- you know, should we do this? And we had a conversation while I was still Boston. But we were both planning that's more or less the same time.
GERTH: Did you know each other--
GERTH: -- you two, before you came here?
WASSMER: No, not at all.
JENSEN: But it's interesting when it came to our search for these two positions because there was really no-- I mean there were no graduate programs in Public Policy and Administration to recruit from. So we knew we needed-- [inaudible] my background--
TORCOM: You had to borrow people. I know, I served on that hiring--
TORCOM:--those hiring committees.
JENSEN: And we knew we needed a political scientist and an economist in that. So, we found the two very best political science faculty who were open and interested in our interdisciplinary program. Because it does take special value commitment, I think.
DETWILER: Well, think of that timing again. So the Lou Wechsler self-study is '90--
COHAN: The program is just off the ground--
DETWILER: -- you guys have recruited and hired--
DETWILER: '95. So did you take Lou's report and wave it around to the faculty and the Dean say look, an outside reviewer says you need to give us more.
JENSEN: Right. And I don't know how Don engineered that, but they did that, that fall-- for that spring--
JENSEN: -- of '95 search, there were two positions that we were given, full-time positions. Now, one of them was linked to the Fellows Program.
GERTH: You know,one of the keys to this whole thing is Jolene Koester, who became the Provost, I think it was '93. And who had the courage to break up the old School of Arts and Sciences and to three [Colleges]. We went through this breakup and then created three Colleges, and renamed the more professional schools as Colleges. And she created the circumstance where, in a sense they-- the almost paralysis of the School of Arts and Sciences, which was enough to drive us all nuts at the time, was just a continuing problem-- was ended and we got a much more flexible situation, which was very, very helpful to you [the MPPA program].
BOILARD: So when Rob and Ted were hired, was-- had the department been created at that point? [people shaking heads “no”] No. So you were still hired in this kind of program.
LASCHER: Yeah, it was a program.
WASSMER: You know, if I may step in. I mean I think one name that hasn't been mentioned, which is part of my origin story, is Terri Sexton.
JENSEN: Yeah, that's true.
WASSMER: She was involved, I believe, in the planning committee.
COHAN: She was--and-- She was very strong and she was very committed to the program as well--
COHAN- and had a clear notion of what she wanted to achieve, right?
WASSMER: And we did very similar state and local public finance economic type of work. And when I saw the position advertised, I knew she was at Sacramento State, and she was a pretty prodigious researcher, you know, for the CSU. So I called her and we had a very long conversation, I recall. And it really, I would say, is due to her that there was a bit of convincing that you should actually take a look at this. It really was what kind of what you're looking for. So, yeah, I think that she deserves some--
WASSMER: -- major recognition in regard to that. And then she was an early teacher in the program too, right; teaching the economics and the policy side of things and really was a good mentor for me about what the students were like and what, you know, when I first came here. Coming from a PhD program in economics, there was a transition period--
[unknown speaker]: Yes, right.
WASSMER: -- I was trying to teach at a level that was even notching it down-- I need to take it down two or three at least on the mathematics, you know, and the empirical and the statistical side of things. But yeah, so she's definitely somebody who deserves recognition in the program. And really was-- got me here and kept me here for a while too. We did some work together.
COHAN: We should mention that she died, you know, quite-- I believe she died.
COHAN: Not Terri—No? I'm thinking, I'm sorry.
LASCHER: You might be thinking of Susan.
DETWILER: Yeah, yeah, Susan McGowan.
COHAN: Yes, that's right, who was also involved. Also very involved, yeah.
BOILARD: So while working to expand the faculty and, again, recognizing the-- you were borrowing faculty from other departments as well to teach individual classes. How did the program go about reaching out for students? How did profile and presence of the Department get shared with the outside world?
JENSEN: We benefited from, I think, the first year-- in the first year from that built up demand.
JENSEN: that always happens when people get word that something is new. So we had 40-- we admitted 35 to 40 resident-- I mean students that first year that came largely from state government-- state and local government.
BOILARD: That were working in--
JENSEN: That were working--
BOILARD: In government.
JENSEN: And, that had come through various recommend-- you know, I think people either were recommended who had been in the Government Department classes, maybe that Lou [Cohan] taught or the Economics classes, you know, it came from our faculty and other graduates of Sac State in the old PPA program that were in leadership positions in the state government. So, I remember very-- I remember the design and the message we wanted to send with those-- or that first pamphlet. That first-- we wanted it to look UC-ish, Berkeley-ish. It had the-- I particularly liked the title “Graduate Program in Public Policy and Administration.” There was a certain cachet, I thought, to that. And-- but anyway, we-- So we worked hard on developing materials and sending them to prominent, you know, to prominent leaders and individuals. And for the first two or three years, there was a blessing of riches. I mean we did not-- we had good candidates, we had-- we really, at some point, we should acknowledge that over the years, the-- 30 years now, the quality of graduates and where they are located. We have alumni of this program in-- on city councils. We have a former mayor-- or the current mayor for life of West Sacramento. We have, you know, the head of one of the largest lobbying firms, Capital Advocacy, John Latimer, Jim Mayer-- James Mayer. So we have-- we had people who were visible and young starting out their careers that I think helped.
BOILARD: Was the program always conceived as a part-time program for working professionals?
JENSEN: Well, that's interesting. I think in my mind it was, initially. I think that after Rob and Ted came and brought a full-time policy expertise, it's a more-- not-- well, a more focused, and the two of them together supported each other, I think, in that, that we began to draw more fresh college graduates, a more diversified group. And I think at some point, there's been a tipping point, I think that probably the majority of our students now come from that 23 to 26 year olds, starting out professional.
GERTH: So you're saying the majority of your students now are full time?
JENSEN: No. No, not full time but are new in their careers rather than--
WASSMER: I'd say it's closer to 50-50.
JENSEN: Is it?
JENSEN: OK. Which I personally I think, pedagogically, is really an exciting environment for both people who have been at this for a while and the young, you know, the young people --creates a nice synergy--
[unknown speaker]: Yeah, Rob.
WASSMER: I want to add something to give credit to the committee and Cristy about maintaining the rigor of the admissions process. I think you've mentioned already, you know, we were an underdog against the UC's.
WASSMER: And I still deal with this—and I deal with this in admissions. You know, I have a UC undergraduate. You know, the master plan, why would I want to come to CSU for my higher education. I think that was always realized-- I mean it must have been difficult going, early on until we've established this reputation. But the fact that you had the graduate record examination-- you know, we've always had that; the fact that we've had prerequisites that are not a piece of cake, statistics and economics for a while. And then, the fact that we had a strong-- you know, we-- that the normal is 2.5, you know, we've always maintained a 3.0. And--
JENSEN: And I think there was a culture of an open admissions. I remember the first couple of years, I had people come in the day before classes start, thinking all they had to do was enroll in PPA 200; that there didn't needed to be-- they weren't being admitted to a program, they didn't have to go through that review. So it was a messaging thing that while we stuck to strict deadlines and those, I think--
WASSMER: And it has worked. It's worked. I mean we have over 500 graduates now. And--
[unknown speaker]: Wow.
WASSMER: -- it's hard to find anybody who was, you know, critical of the training.
WASSMER: You know, in some of them-- I was just talking to somebody about the Department of Finance. You know, we’ve populated the Department of Finance, yes. And one of the things that we do in our classes is teach students to write a two-page briefing memo. Well, they've adapted that as their testing mechanism.
WASSMER: Like when they go-- let's go to hire somebody, they may be some of the people on the hiring committee for [inaudible] graduates. But I was quite amazed at, you know, leg's up. And this goes back to, you know, doing policy, but doing a policy in a way that's written for the layperson for the policymaker to understand and communication is something we should always talk about. You know, writing has always been very important in our program and that also fits into that.
LASCHER: Just to build on what Rob is saying too. There's the notion that there really is a path to the curriculum. That it's not just a collection of courses—that they actually progress in a particular way. And actually, this would jump the gun, but later after-- we-- some of that, we actually got stricter about, you know? We had-- that we had a true introductory course from the beginning. And then you would go from there. And then we got actually stricter about no, there aren't exceptions to taking the-- that and things like that but although quite a few graduate programs are more a collection of courses. And that can be taken in almost any order. And we had a-- there was a progression, a logical progression about how students should go through them.
DETWILER: When was that? Can you talk to me a little bit about how you came to that decision or why you thought that was important? Because that doesn't seem to be a typical thing at a CSU campus.
COHAN: Well, I think in part, it was because we were getting students from so many diverse areas, and some of them had-- you know, some of them would come in and say, well, I've had, you know, advanced course and this or that, why should I have to take this? You know?
JENSEN: Yeah, why should I take the budgeting class when I've been at that for--
COHAN: Right, you know, or why should I. And yet, and yet, a lot of times, they thought they knew more than they actually did. And some of them had really very little background in the studies which are characteristic of a public policy program. But, they were in a job which led them to think differently than they did as undergraduates. So I think it was very important. And more than that as well, I think-- from my limited experience in the first few years of teaching, you know, in the program, was that these students developed quite a cohort feeling, you know? They were very friendly with one another. Not-- in my experience, graduate students tend to be much more competitive. And I thought that it'd helped them in their futures as well, that they helped each other. Some were more knowledgeable than others. They didn't have a sense of, you know, necessary superiority over their colleagues and each person seem to, you know,
evolve with this group. And they had a lot of out-of-class contact as well. They were very friendly. You know, they had parties and they were enjoying themselves. So, I think it helped. You know, the fact that they had to take these introductory courses together, and particularly it was important in terms of the economics. You know, very, very, I think so. The courses they had to take to prepare themselves for the economic slice of public policy.
LASCHER: And just one thing on that, Steve. I agree with Lou. And actually I think, if anything, the cohort sense has increased over time, because the-- we put the key formative experiences that they all have. They sort of all go through the gauntlet and various things together and think of that. But the other thing I'd noticed is that some of the subsequent graduate programs that were created on campus that-- say the doctoral programs then also had a cohort model. So we actually-- our certain cohort approach was actually precedent setting for a lot of other sorts of programs.
GERTH: I find this very interesting because one of the reactions I had when we came to this campus in 1984, having a background of three other campuses, San Francisco State and Chico and Dominguez Hills, was that the curriculum generally on this campus was at the departmental level-- or the level of the major-- was a collection of courses, not structured; in great contrast with the other three campuses I was on, which were very-- they weren't all the same by any means. But ,there was structure and on this campus there was an extraordinary-- it was a part of the campus culture. And I guess, what, back to 19-- something that happened in 1947 or not too many years after that where you didn't put structure in a curriculum. And there was a real resistance to that. One of the things I valued about a particular campus Senate Chair, whom you all know, Juanita Barrena, could-- she could be a tough customer some days of the week. But, she was a wonderful Senate Chair because she would get behind issues of real substance in terms of the curriculum, which is ultimately what we're all about. And we began some introduction of the notion that you could have some sense and order in a curriculum rather, than a collection of courses. And I think this, now in the Department, you contributed a great deal to that because this wasn't exactly a popular point of view in terms of the culture of the campus.
TORCOM: I was wondering how you did establish the curriculum initially. How did you make decisions about what courses were going to comprise this degree and what was going to be in them.
COHAN: Well, as I recall, I think we were talking about Terri Sexton. And I had my clear ideas what I thought should be in a course about the political environment and policymaking, and-- you know, out of our experience, I think people thought there were certain things that were absolutely essential. You know, and our courses, you know, should be developed to-- particularly for students who were coming at different levels of expectation, different levels of background into this program. And that it was not so much the substance of the policy that we were teaching them, because the policies would differ in wherever they went, but if they had to know about what made this whole system-- public policy—work. You know, you had to know about the institutions. You had to know about the math. You had to know-- You had to be able to read graphs. You had to be able to understand what you were dealing with. And you had to know the politics institutionally and process-wise and electoral politics. You had to know about the interest groups and how they're organized and what the structures of government itself brought to bear on the policy. And once you had that, you were equipped then to move into any number of other kinds of substantive areas. And that's what they were looking for because they were a very diverse group. So I think that was important. And we knew that it wasn't just, you know, knots and bolts here. It had to fit in to what they were trying to garner for themselves in education.
JENSEN: I don't know who to attribute this to, but I think it was something that maybe some people whispered about, was that public policy schools, a la Berkeley and in the LAO Office, for instance; I remember hearing early on: the people in LAO Office have good analytic tools, they have good understanding of the policy content, but they sure don't understand implementation and resistance in bureaucracy and the role of executive leadership in making policy work. And so there was this, there was this, unspoken understanding-- even in some of the practitioner community, that you better understand bureaucracy as a force to be reckoned with or manipulated or changed to make things work. And that in evaluating policy for legislators-- I mean I'm looking at you, Steve, because, you know, you-- that's part of what you were doing.
BOILARD: I spent 15 years in LAO and I had exactly the blind spot you're talking about. I think it's a fair--
BOILARD: seriously-- it's a fair call.
JENSEN: Yeah, And so I think that was-- just to follow up on what Lou said. I think that that was part of what the feeling was and the support for that was that-- there were these holes sometimes in people's backgrounds.
BOILARD: So when we're talking about curriculum in, you know, equipping-- you know, Rob made the point to say, the departments had high standards and that part is part of the brand. Was the Master's thesis a requirement from the beginning or is that something-- So how was the decision made because that makes it a little more unusual than other programs, doesn't it?
JENSEN: Well, I think initially-- I mean I think one of the things that we-- that I know we struggled with in those early days was the range of options we were going to give people for that culminating requirement. The catalog and general policy on the campus was that there were-- I think the term "thesis" and "project" were used not totally interchangeably but were seen as options. This project had the sense more of a practical-- You could take a needs assessment or an analysis that you did on your job--and somehow use that as the data for a culminating project. So the issues of like the-- we knew we wanted a culminating project. But how that gets done whether it's done in groups, we've experimented with having state clients that have a need and have four or five, six, ten students, some of that working with parts of their thesis project being part of a major report that-- I think we struggled with that model. But there are-- so-- but it's always-- there's always been a sense that there should be something tangible. And yet we didn't want to exclude the possibility of more traditional theoretical thesis. I think we tried not say you can't do that. I don't know in recent years.
LASCHER: I'm curious about what Cristy would say to this, but my take of it would be just slightly different. I actually think at the time most departments with graduate programs had some sort of thesis. So I think what made PPA unique was trying to build in flexibility about the type of work that could be done and more-- could be more applied. So it wasn't-- and that's part 1. And part 2 is that PPA has continued to hold to that, whereas other departments have actually moved away-- notably Political Science, for example, now, actually encourages students mainly to do comprehensive exams. So it's actually rare now that Political Science graduate students do a thesis. So to me, it's those two things: it's the willingness to think of different forms of a culminating project; and then, sort of that we stuck with it. And as Cristy and Rob at least know, this is a subject for discussion at pretty much every retreat [laughter]. For the last 17 years, I would say, there's some discussion of how should we change the thesis, what should we do differently, how-- you know?
COHAN: The theses are hard, you know, for our students.
LASCHER: We've noticed that.
COHAN: Yeah. There's no-- Yeah.
JENSEN: And uneven.
COHAN: Yeah, yes. Yes.
WASSMER: And when you have, you know, 25 to 30 people beginning every year and only having three or four--
COHAN: Four faculty, right.
WASSMER: -- you just do the numbers and now it's doing 10 to 12 sometimes in a given year. And actually, I could keep a list of the numbers that I've done, you know, and it's close to 140--
WASSMER: -- that I've been the primary advisor on master's thesis.
JENSEN: And I think-- I'm glad that Rob raised this because we don't need to spend a whole time on it. But that issue of workload and graduate programs, you know, in the CSU, and how workload is recognized and FTE is generated. You know, we never have cracked-- I don't feel we've successfully cracked that in terms of-- it-- Maybe it's just too big a boulder to push up the hill to get the rest of the faculty on the campus, you know, who feel that we're primarily an undergraduate teaching institution.
WASSMER: Because, you know, a good segue which hasn't been mentioned a name is the Dean of SSIS, right, Joe Sheley, who set this tradition in regard to kind of looking the other way in regard to our workloads and, you know, notching them down and cross subsidizing undergraduate, you know. And he built that tradition early on and it has basically been continued onward also. And that was in the same, I think Bill Sullivan was the Dean for one semester or two when I first came and then Joe Sheley came--
WASSMER:-- quickly after that. So I saw a little bit of the old system, but Sheley really was-- you know, Sac State graduate, an innovator, and really set, you know, and worked our way up to Provost when he did but, you know, set the standard that have been talked about. So I think that was very important--
LASCHER: The critical thing that Joe Sheley did was- Joe did explicitly-- so he was-- he moved first of all a college to look at targets for the number of students much more than others had rather than simply number of courses. And he was somewhat of an innovator in that regard. But he explicitly gave PPA a different standard for how many students we had to serve because honestly, we couldn't have done it with another way. So what he did was he held us to a different standard which I know sometimes had some controversy from other places but--
TORCOM: Well, really, as a graduate program--
LASCHER: Yeah. That's right.
TORCOM: -- enrollment standards too.
LASCHER: And the interesting thing is that we tended to-- we had to serve less students than most. We actually tended to serve more graduate students. So our graduate courses have almost, from the beginning, tended to be bigger than most plus we're-- as both Rob and Cristy have stressed, we do the thesis supervision on top of that. And just one other little note to show but to reinforce the notion of that we've kept the rigor. Cristy mentioned that we would allow projects as thesis, we were open to that. But one of the things we realized sort of early in the time that we were here was that at that time, it only required one reader for a project. So people would sometimes do a project simply to have fewer readers. And we took care of that by saying, OK, you can do a project but you're still having two readers. So every-- since that time, every single one of our thesis, no matter what, no matter what-- who is involved, no matter what type it is, always has two readers.
JENSEN: Which really speaks to-- maybe it's another piece we haven't touched on here with the part-timers because Peter Detwiler--
JENSEN: I really think he did some-- he'd be drawn to some of this because he has been-- can we say that he has probably chaired some number of thesis/projects.
DETWILER: No, I could never be primary reader because--
JENSEN: No, I know that but I mean--
COHAN: because he couldn’t.
DETWILER: But my number by the way is 48. Forty-eight as second reader--
[BOILARD]: Wow. Wow.
DETWILER: --which is only half as many theses as Martin Luther, I recognize that [laughter].
LASCHER: I’m not so sure.
DETWILER: Do the math.
LASCHER: We should also note that as somebody who cares a lot about writing and has actually published about writing, and very conscious of that, students would come to me to say-- for relief from Peter because Peter was such a stickler about making the writer writing clear and really produced excellent products as a result. And Peter was doing this. He got paid the same amount every year for this--
DETWILER: That's right.
LASCHER: -- for the work, a big zero.
BOILARD: So before we take a break and move into the more kind of hitting its stride section of the program, is there anything else on the kind of the formative years and formative issues that we want to discuss? Cristy?
JENSEN: Just quickly. Maybe we'll get to some of this more later but I think in those early first four, five or six years, there were several things that Peter and I did-- a couple of things that Peter and I did together, and something I-- some other things that I did with another graduate, which we're trying to give some splash, some excitement and visibility to the kind of resources that we could pull together. We did a forum on regional growth issues and brought in nationally recognized expert John De Grove from Florida, had a panel that included Gary Delsohn from THE [SACRAMENTO] BEE, and the lawyer Terri-- Toni-- Terri, the woman [Tina Thomas]. Well, anyway, a lawyer that was working on those regional growth issues had a forum on the state. You know, so there were-- there was that program outreach in terms of saying here we are Sac State is a resource to the community thing that we tried to do and we built on that significantly in more ways. But I-- But there was another piece of that—early time.
BOILARD: And Rob, you had some-- you wanted to--
WASSMER: The only thing that I wanted to add-- these early 2000's and the mid-2000's all have kind of blend together. But Nancy Shulock was very instrumental in talking about, you know, learning objectives, goals for our entire program and coming up with-- you know, I think we still have them-- you know, four or five, there might have been seven or eight, we now got them down to four or five. But then having those learning objectives map back to actually the core courses and having, you know, learning objectives there, and then having students do evaluations every year. And, you know, we-- that was kind of an early moment-- that was in early 2000 that were just being started about. A lot of the academic community were dismissing it. So we have to give a lot of credit in Nancy in those years or beginning that and we continue that to that day. And we've always been-- that's kind of-- that's part of our branding, not so much on the outside, but on the inside we've-- our department has always been looked to, especially at the graduate level, as an example of how you can do this at the graduate level. And I think that's worth noting as part of our entire culture to put them together.
BOILARD: And, Ted?
LASCHER: Well, I just want to take an opportunity actually offer a thanks to Lou and to Cristy and those who were involved in this early for coming up with a multi-disciplinary curriculum and for sort of keeping that curriculum focused on different skills and different-- that type of-- rather than focusing on, for example, the particular substantive areas. Because the thing I would note in terms of the substantive areas, what people have studied, health, education, things like-- those have sort of floated in and out at different periods. One is more important. But I think, they rightly focused on here are the key skills and abilities and disciplines that you need to know.
GERTH: You know, one of the things-- I sat down after our first session a week ago yesterday. And wrote to myself some notes about themes I had heard. And one of the themes I've heard was about the capacity of department's faculty to be interdisciplinary. That I think what I was hearing a week ago was that that capacity began to emerge in the mid '80s, as people began to realize that it could be advantageous to have interdisciplinary programs; as opposed to the fiercely disciplinary programs or departmentalized-- departmentally confined programs. And you've hit on the same thing here, which is-- from my standpoint, exceedingly important.
TORCOM: It's not easy?
GERTH: Not easy--
[multiple speakers]: [crosstalk]
GERTH—but it’s important, not only to the professional programs, but to the traditional departments. Because, I think as you sort of look at the landscape of American higher education, more generally, and I know we're not supposed to be talking about the year 2018. But interdisciplinary strikes me at least as I try and stay up with the literature, something that is in recent years emerged more and more among major universities in the country as opposed to a fierce departmentalization.
BOILARD: One other way that I see this theme of interdisciplinary showing up is I keep hearing the same names showing up over these three meetings. We keep hearing about Betty Moulds, we keep hearing about Nancy Shulock who have been involved in so many different things. So maybe that's part of the way the interdisciplinary shows up. Let's take a break. And then we'll return after five minutes.