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A History of the IU South Bend MPA program

The MPA degree was offered by the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) from 1972 through June 2008. IU South Bend-SPEA graduated its first MPA students in 1975, and came under the direction of Dr. William (Bill) Hojnacki in the early 1980s, a position he was to hold for nearly two decades, making a lasting imprint on the program.

SPEA, a state-wide school, once had a presence on all eight campuses of the Indiana University system. The MPA was offered by SPEA at the Bloomington, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, South Bend and Gary (Northwest) campuses, all of which were initially accredited collectively by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA). In 1991-92, the School adopted the recommendation of NASPAA to seek separate accreditation of the degree by campus. The IU South Bend MPA program gained separate accreditation in 1991, and was re-accredited again in 1998 and 2005.

The system-wide model for Indiana University Schools came under review by a Committee appointed by then University President Adam Herbert in June 2006. After consultation with regional campus Deans and Chancellors; the Committee, chaired by SPEA founding Dean Charles Bonser, issued its report in October of 2006. The report, titled “A Review of IU’s Core Campus and System School Operations” (linked here) identified a number of limitations of the system-wide model and invited the regional campuses to reassess their relationship with the system schools.

In October 2006 IU South Bend Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs Alfred Guillaume subsequently appointed an Ad Hoc Committee on Academic Restructuring tasked with considering a range of items, among which the future of IU South Bend-SPEA was prominent. This committee, which included two IU South Bend-SPEA faculty members and the Chair of the Department of Political Science, conducted extensive consultation with SPEA faculty.

The Ad Hoc Committee on Academic Restructuring recommended that SPEA be dissolved at IU South Bend, and suggested a range of options for the MPA program, among which transferring the program to the Department of Political Science was prominently recommended. The University subsequently decided to transfer the MPA program to the Department of Political Science in the College of LIberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), effective July 2008. Two former SPEA faculty transferred to the Department of Political Science. Three other former SPEA faculty who have since transferred to other schools or departments continue to teach in the program.

Shortly after the announcement of this decision to move the MPA program to the Department of Political Science, CLAS Dean Lynn Williams convened an MPA Program Transition Committee to plan the details of the move to CLAS. Linda Chen assumed the position of MPA Program Director. This decision was taken by the Dean of CLAS after consultation with all 2008 Political Science faculty, and reflects especially an effort to smooth the transition of the program to the department.

The IU South Bend MPA program now housed in the Department of Political Science continues the strong history of the MPA program, which has over 200 alumni, most of whom have remained in the Michiana region.