50th Anniversary

Fall Wrap-Up: 50th Anniversary Kicks off with Three Days of Events

Scramble Golf Tournament at the Bridges of Poplar Creek

Our 50th Anniversary Celebration began with our 16th annual golf outing held at the Bridges of Poplar Creek in Hoffman Estates.  It was the perfect day to spend time out on the links and visit with fellow MPA alums and friends including Bernie Oglietti (MPA ’78) who traveled over 1,300 miles from Montana to attend the celebration.  Bernie made way for all alumni to plan to attend next year’s outing when he described the scramble event this way, “It was obvious that there were no prerequisite qualifications as to golf skills, but it sure was fun to be with lifelong friends.”  

This year’s event started with lunch and a visit with NIU’s mascot Victor E. Huskie.  After completing their round of golf, players headed inside for an Italian buffet dinner where the winners of the golf event, the raffle and the silent auction were announced.  Over 50 prizes were distributed.   A live auction was held where the highest bidding alums won:  an autographed NIU football, an overnight golf stay at Eagle Ridge Inn in Galena, a week in Orlando Florida (donated by Greg Kuhn) and a weekend stay in an Eagle Ridge townhome (donated by Joe Block).

The event was a great success thanks to the efforts of the golf committee:  Co-Chairs Jim Norris and Greg Kuhn, committee members:  Dawn Peters, Dawn Wucki-Rossbach, John Schuldt, Barry Krummstok, Eric Tison, Mike Strong, Myrel Simons, Eric Ertmoed, Joe Cavallaro, Chris Martin, Sean Stegall, and Mike Peddle.

50th Anniversary Fall Seminar

The 50th Anniversary Fall Seminar “Professional Values and Generational Change,” brought out a large group of alumni, faculty and students to the Marriott Northwest in Hoffman Estates.  The day began with a buffet breakfast and table discussions on generational differences between Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and Millenials.  Luke McClanahan, president of the Public Administration Student Association (PASA) described the breakfast discussion this way,   “Having this conversation was intriguing to say the least.  Discussing this topic at breakfast with public administration professionals representing three different generations sparked a lively debate and improved my understanding of what makes our generations unique and also what makes them surprisingly similar.” 

Dr. Jim Svara, Research Professor, School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University and Visiting Professor at the UNC Chapel Hill’s School of Government,  was the morning keynote speaker focusing on the legacy that has been handed down by professional local government managers through the years and the challenges that will be faced in the future.  To watch Dr. Svara’s presentation click here.

The luncheon was an opportunity to highlight the distinguishing aspect of the program, the internship.  Internship supervisors were recognized for their contribution to the success of the program.  Patrick Higgins, Village Manager of Western Springs, was recognized and received a rousing round of applause for being an intern supervisor for over 35 years.

As part of the 50th Celebration, the committee unveiled a video featuring alumni (including the MPA’s first intern, Duane Olivier), faculty and staff.  “Celebrating the Legacy” is part one of a two part recruitment video to showcase the MPA program and the internship experience.  To watch “Celebrating the Legacy” click here.

The luncheon keynote speaker, Laura Huffman gave a spirited presentation on the value of a high quality MPA degree in both local government and the nonprofit sector.  She described how her experience working for the City of San Antonio prepared her for her position as the State Director of the Nature Conservancy of Texas.  As Marty Bourke (MPA ’81) observed, Ms. Huffman’s distinguished background in multiple fields relating to public administration provided the students attending with a justification for their aspirations in the field, while affirming the lifelong work of the practitioners in the room representing various generations.”  Click here to watch Laura’s presentation.

The afternoon colloquium included a panel discussion of “Budgeting for local governments and NGOs during economic recession/fiscal stress.”  The panel included academics from the field of public administration including:  Rebecca Hendrick, Mike Craw, Donijo Robbins and Aurora Finance Director, Brian Caputo (MPA ’99).

The fall seminar was summarized by 50th Anniversary Chair Valerie Salmons in this way, “The fall seminar was appropriately focused.  Dr. James Svara reminded us of our proud yet complex roots of good government.  Laura Huffman showed how those same roots can be applied to environmental stewardship with our theme ‘Celebrating the Legacy…Inspiring a New Generation’.”

Ride Like an Egyptian Bike Rally Event

MPA supporters joined in the Egyptian Theater’s “Ride like an Egyptian Bike Rally.”    It was a perfect day for a bike ride through the DeKalb County countryside.  Ellen Cabrera, MPA division staff member, led the group from the Egyptian Theater east toward the town of Maple Park on a 25 mile ride.  Others in the group, including Katy Rush, Chuck Biondo and Mike Allison, followed an extra loop to pedal for 50 miles and faculty member Craig Maher completed 100 miles on his bike with MPA student Luke Banaszak.

Overall, the 50th Anniversary Golf Outing, Fall Seminar and Bike Rally were great opportunities for alumni, faculty, staff and students to focus on the profession, reconnect and have some fun. As one alum remarked, “I enjoyed the opportunity to see fellow alumni, faculty, staff and also the current students. It was really nice to share my NIU experience and hear about the current students’ thoughts and ideas for their future.”

Kurt Thurmaier