Driving change, meaning business: UW-Green Bay’s Master’s in Public Administration is shaping the future of service

UW-Green Bay Masters of Public Administration student Gage Beck speaks with a co-worker at the Greater Green Bay YMCA. Photo by Dan Moore, University Photographer

While it’s easy in our “return on investment” higher education landscape to prioritize fields like computer science and biomedics for their direct financial rewards, students like Gage Beck at UW-Green Bay are more drawn by the call to serve. Beck’s journey into the public sector is not solely driven by financial gain but by a profound dedication to service. His sentiment echoes a broader trend: while the profit from a job is significant, its value in public service and community impact cannot be underestimated.

UW-Green Bay’s new Master’s in Public Administration degree, promises to shape students ready to make profound differences in both the community and the economy.

In debunking common myths, nonprofits don’t solely operate on thin budgets and goodwill. With institutions like the YMCA and Red Cross, they contributed a whopping $1.1 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2022. Moreover, there’s been a 10% surge in registered nonprofit organizations in the U.S. over the past ten years. Approximately 15% of all jobs in the U.S. are in the public sector, highlighting the shift towards roles in social welfare, community outreach, and various government levels.

Beck’s story aptly exemplifies this trend. His life has always revolved around helping others. “Throughout high school, I consistently volunteered for various nonprofits,” Beck shares, which led him to engage with the Greater Green Bay YMCA. He later pursued a Bachelor’s in Public Administration from UW-Green Bay in 2021 and now holds the position of Grants Manager. As Beck furthers his commitment to the cause, he’s also enrolled in the new MPA graduate program at UW-Green Bay.

UW-Green Bay stands out in Wisconsin for its MPA program. Unlike other state universities, it offers both a bachelor’s and master’s in this burgeoning sector. Kerry Kuenzi, an Associate Professor and program chair, highlights its uniqueness, “While the MPA is more common in other states, it’s not as widespread here [in Wisconsin].” But UW-Green Bay is carving a niche with three program tracks: a traditional graduate degree, an accelerated bachelor’s and master’s combination taking just 5 years, and an executive track for established public service leaders. This tailored approach covers essential skills such as management, ethics, leadership, budgeting, public policy analysis, and more, aligning the curriculum with students’ career stages.

Financially speaking, Beck appreciates UW-Green Bay for its value proposition. “It was a more economical choice than other private colleges I looked into. Its location also allowed me to stay at home and graduate debt-free in just two and a half years,” he reveals.

Blending both online and in-person learning, Beck’s academic journey is flexible yet rigorous. Often, he’s the only student physically attending a class, creating an intimate, sometimes challenging learning environment. His current courses, including “Foundations of Public Administration”, are tough but rewarding. And with many familiar faces from his undergraduate years, such as Professor Kuenzi, the journey feels holistic. Beck shares what a typically week looks like in the program and how his stays organized in this video.

Reflecting on Beck’s dedication, Kuenzi states, “He could have opted for an MBA, but his heart is in the service sector.” As Beck completes his MPA, his zeal combined with newfound professional skills promises to make a tangible difference in the community. In a domain where passion and professionalism are vital, Kuenzi concludes, “Beck exemplifies students understanding the need for skills that will help them better serve their organizations.”


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