Professor. Affiliate Professor of Public Policy for MPP/PhD program. Arrived at UMBC in 1990 after working at Congressional Budget Office from 1981-1990. Grew up in NJ. BA from Colby College and PhD from University of Michigan. Books: Handbook of Government Budgeting; Strategic Budgeting. Articles and public service advocacy on federal and state budget processes and policies. Fellow of National Academy of Public Administration. First Sondheim Program Director. Also interested in politics of environmental policy; faculty representative for UMBC’s Climate Change Steering Committee. Enjoy cycling, skiing, paddling, vegetable and fruit gardening, cooking.
Q: What led you to become a political scientist?
A: My formative years were during the 1960s and early 1970s–civil rights movement, Great Society, invasion of Czechoslovakia, Vietnam War, Watergate–so on many days the importance of politics was crystal clear. I also had a high school teacher of history and government, Harry Ahearn, who inspired me to read about and be active in politics. Volunteering for candidates in 1972 (McGovern) and 1974 (Andrew Maguire) taught me that being active was rewarding whether the outcome was a loss or a win.
Q: What kinds of research questions are most interesting to you?
A: My goal in conducting research is to identify practical approaches for improving public policies and the political institutions that evaluate, adopt, and manage those policies. Given my experience at the Congressional Budget Office, and the many flaws of federal budgetary policies and processes, my efforts have focused on how to remedy those problems. I am particularly interested in how practitioners–elected and appointed officials and their high-level staff–might be convinced to reform important aspects of the budget process and of Congress. I am a member of the National Budgeting Roundtable, which meets each month at the Brookings Institution to discuss and develop such reform efforts.
Q: What ideas, skills, or experiences do you hope students will come away with after having taken a class with you?
A: My courses apply concepts from political science and the other social sciences to a wide range of important policy and political issues. Each year I update the courses so that class discussions involve especially timely issues. The courses also emphasize short writing assignments in formats that are typically used in politics and public administration. This approach helps prepare students for the practical world while giving them insights produced by academic research.
Q: What can POLI majors do with their degrees?
A: A great deal, provided they take advantage of the valuable opportunity to gain a broad liberal arts education at UMBC. Regarding the specialized benefits of the political science major, our discipline is very eclectic, so the knowledge and skills that students can attain varies greatly. Students who take courses in my areas of public policy, public administration, and American politics can begin interesting careers in a variety of public service roles. Often this should be combined with graduate school training. One option students should consider is the accelerated program in public policy at UMBC that permits students to earn a BA/MPP in five years.