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Centex ASPA Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Texas State University’s MPA Program at Annual Public Service Recognition Week Banquet

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40th MPA Anniversary Sponsored by Texas State University’s William P. Hobby Center for Public Service

By Emily Kay Hanks

On May 1, 2014, the Centex Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) held its annual Public Service Recognition Week Banquet at the historic Green Pastures Restaurant in Austin, Texas. More than 140 individuals attended this year’s event, which celebrated the 40th anniversary of Texas State University’s Masters’ of Public Administration (MPA) Program. The event culminated in the recognition of 21 outstanding MPA alumni including John Sharp, Chancellor of Texas A & M University & Larry Gilley, City Manager of Abilene, Texas and Past President of the Texas City Management Association (TCMA).

The evening’s featured speaker was the Honorable Larry Gonzales, member of the Texas House of Representatives. Representative Gonzales, who will graduate with his MPA degree from Texas State University this spring, spoke about the importance of public service and public service to the citizens of Texas.

Dr. Tom Longoria presented the highest award of evening, Public Administrator of the Year, to Ms. Magdalena Blanco. Among her many contributions to public service, Ms. Blanco has served as Chair of the City of Austin’s Independent Citizen’s Districting Commission and currently serves as Director of the Travis County Strategic Finance Corporation.

The Centex chapter of ASPA also highlighted the accomplishments of faculty, students and alumni at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin, the MPA Program at Texas State University and the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. All three universities recognized outstanding public administration educators and student research projects and named distinguished alumni.

Dr. Patricia Shields (Texas State University) and Dr. Ken Matwiczak (LBJ School of Public Affairs) were both honored by the Centex chapter as Public Administration Educator of the Year.

Pi Alpha Alpha inductees with faculty advisors. Left to right: Bryce Cox, Trinh Bartlett, Dr. Howard Balanoff, Dr. Emily Hanks, Devin Bailey, Curtis Leeth and Janiece Crenwelge. Not shown Samantha Alexander

Pi Alpha Alpha inductees with faculty advisors. Left to right: Bryce Cox, Trinh Bartlett, Dr. Howard Balanoff, Dr. Emily Hanks, Devin Bailey, Curtis Leeth and Janiece Crenwelge. Not shown Samantha Alexander

Each year, outstanding graduate student research is recognized by the James W. McGrew Research Awards. Recipients at this year’s event included students from the Bush School of Government & Public Service, the LBJ School of Public Affairs and Texas State’s MPA Program. McGrew award winners were given the opportunity to share a description their project and findings with attendees. A complete list of the McGrew award winners and their research projects is below (Faculty advisors are listed with team project awards). Also in recognition of student scholarly achievements, Pi Alpha Alpha, the National Public Administration Honor Society, inducted six new student members into the Texas State University Chapter.

In addition, the Public Service Recognition Week banquet was an occasion for Centex ASPA to reward the efforts of students pursing gradate degrees in public administration with financial support. A number of named scholarships in public administration were presented including:

The Dr. George Weinberger Scholarship, offered by Centex ASPA, was presented to Jennifer Jendrzey and Jeremy Martin. Both Jennifer and Jeremy are graduate students at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

The William P. Hobby Family Scholarship, offered by Texas State University, was presented to MPA student Devan Gartman.

The Balanoff Family Scholarship was awarded to Texas State MPA student Marta Ortiz.

The Frank Rich Scholarships, named in honor of the former Chair of the Political Science Department at Texas State University, were given to Samantha Alexander and Geronima Brady.

The evening concluded with the naming of Distinguished Alumni from the LBJ School, the Bush School and the MPA Program at Texas State. To mark the important milestone of the 40th Anniversary of the MPA Program, 21 alumni received distinguished alumni awards from Texas State. When list is reviewed in total, it immediately reveals the important, positive impact that ASPA members have on our communities. Thank you for your service!
James W. McGrew Research Awards
Bush School of Government & Public Service, Texas A&M University

  • “U.S. Strategic Options for Iran,” Marlee Kingsley, David Blanco, Heather Mauel, Amber Stotts, Karolina Lopacka, Jacob Abernathy, Michael Peacock, Michael Kramer, Marques Varela, Krysten Young (students). Mohammad Tabaar (faculty advisor).
  • “The Case for Investing in Adult Literacy: Preliminary Findings,” Nick Fette, Shireen Jahedkar, Mary Christina Riley, Hamid Shafezadeh, Terry Sun, Angela Yan (students). Lori Taylor (faculty advisor)

The LBJ School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin

  • “Artic Resource Development: A Public Affairs Approach,” Ariel Shalin.
  • “Management Failures: Inadequate Medical Care at Harris County Jail,” Alycia Welch.
  • “The Reclamation of the U.S. Congress,” Martha Berry, Jeanie Donovan, Joycelyn Kuhn, Vanessa Sloetts and Alycia Welch (students). Angela Evans (faculty advisor).

MPA Program, Texas State University

  • “An Ideal Model for Responding to Active Shooter Incidents in Schools,” Denise Dusek.
  • “A Fragile Legacy: The Contributions of Women in the United States Sanitary Commission to the United States Administrative State,” Pam Tise.

Distinguished Alumni
Bush School of Government & Public Service, Texas A&M University

  • Judson Brown, Director, Dallas Housing Authority.
  • Kelly Garcia, Advisor to Executive Commissioner, Texas Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Nelda Hunter, Vice President of Government Relations for Gentiva Health Services.

The LBJ School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin

  • Walter Moreau, Executive Director, Foundation Communities.
  • Steve Niemeyer, President, GlobalAustin & Border Affairs Manager, TCEQ.
  • Kimberly Springer, Deputy Budget Officer, City of Austin.

MPA Program, Texas State University

  • Barry Bales, Assistant Dean for Professional Development, The LBJ School of Public Affairs, UT Austin.
  • Brenda Branch, Director, City of Austin Public Library.
  • Gary Coe, Texas State University’s CPM Program Faculty, former member Round Rock City Council.
  • Ron Davis, County Commissioner, Precinct #1 Travis County, Texas.
  • Mike Eastland, Executive Director, North Central Texas Council of Governments.
  • Brenda Eivens, City Manager, City of Cedar Park, Texas.
  • Dee Ellis, Executive Director, Texas Animal Health Commission.
  • Doug Faesler, City Manager, City of Sequin, Texas.
  • Larry Gilley, City Manager, Abilene, Texas.
  • Barney Knight, Principal, Barney Knight Law Firm, former city manager of Austin & Temple, Texas.
  • Charles Matthews, former chancellor of the Texas State University System and former chair of Texas Railroad Commission.
  • Eddie Molina, former director of administration, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
  • David MacCabe, former director of internal auditing, Teachers’ Retirement System of Texas.
  • Chuck Pinto, former city manager of New Braunfels, Live Oak, Seabrook and Orange, Texas.
  • Richard Ridings, Executive Vice President, HNTB Engineering, former Chief Executive Officer Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.
  • Rudy Ruiz, Founder & President, Community Development Management Co., Lockhart, Texas.
  • Phil Ruiz, Founder & Vice President, Community Development Management Co., Lockhart, Texas.
  • Matthew Smith, City Manager, Live Oak, Texas.
  • John Sharp, Chancellor, Texas A&M University System & former comptroller of the State of Texas.
  • Mike Tanner, former city manager, Portland, Texas.
  • Debbie Tucker, Executive Director, National Center on Domestic & Violence, Austin, Texas.


Author: Emily Kay Hanks is an assistant professor of Political Science at Texas State University. She is also the faculty advisor of Pi Alpha Alpha, The National Public Administration Honor Society. She can be contacted at [email protected].

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