Public Administration Students Place First in Competition

Posted: April 12, 2022 | Author: Abbie Cochrane | Read Time: 3 minutes

MPA students win first placeThere’s nothing that bonds a team of people quite like a competition. Working together to achieve a common goal and bounce ideas off each other is a great way to get to know another’s thought process and figure out a way to Tetris everyone’s ideas into the final product. Recently, two teams of Southern Utah University’s Public Administration students competed in a case competition hosted by the Utah City Management Association (UCMA). Several other universities competed, but SUU’s Team 2 took the first place trophy.

“I was really glad that I was able to do it, I’ve never done a competition like that before,” said Clara Webster, a student on SUU’s winning team. “It was really fun going up to BYU and competing and it was really cool to do networking and see what other students are learning.”

The competition consisted of a case that acted as a simulation of how a real city operates with problems each team would solve in their own respect. The teams had to figure out a way to help the fictional community council adjust quickly to a fast-growing town, as well as how to budget money, manage to pay employees, provide housing, and satisfy citizens. The students had a week to put together a presentation on their solutions based on information from any pertinent source they could find that contributed to their main idea. After hours of preparation, teams from each university presented their case solution to a panel of judges who then graded each presentation. SUU’s Team 2 and BYU made it to the finals. In the final competition, both teams were given a twist in the case and a half hour to come up with a revised solution. After a celebratory dinner, the team from SUU was announced as the winner.

“The goal of our program is to prepare these students to solve real-world problems,” said Dr. Roger Carter, professor of public administration. “We want our students to leave the University with the knowledge they need to plug into life and make a real impact. Winning this competition shows that this program is competitive and that we are preparing students for real scenarios and situations they will face.”

Karina Eckern, team captain for the champion team nearly wrapping up a Master’s in Public Administration degree at SUU, emphasized the importance of creative democracy amongst her team. The team could only succeed if everyone’s ideas were heard and incorporated as best as possible. When not everyone agreed on a matter – compromise was key.

“My biggest thing that I wanted to incorporate within the competition as I didn’t want to be the one that made the final decision,” said Eckern. “Is this idea something that we’re all in agreement with, with no opposition? We wanted to see the problem from different angles and recognize that there’s no one perfect solution for a case, so we wanted to get as close to perfection as we could.”

The inspiration for Eckern’s team’s solution was the 100 Day Plan utilized by the Executive Branch, as well as St. George’s budget plan.

“I’ve worked in local government. No one person is calling the shots. I wanted to bring that element to my team, and it worked. We were very collaborative. I think that’s what set us apart as a team,” Eckern added.

The Master of Public Administration program provides an intellectual, collaborative, and an engaged learning environment where students learn to act in the interest of defining and pursuing the public interest. To learn more about SUU’s Master’s in Public Administration degree, visit the website.

Tags: Public Administration