Learning to do better
A growing master’s program equips professionals for ‘good business.’
Meg Myers Morgan, left, is an alumna of OU-Tulsa’s Master of Public Administration program, which she now oversees. The program’s students include Ryan Gentzler and Shaheen Sheikh, who work in the public and nonprofit sectors.
Corporate America is discovering that doing good is good business.
With terms like “conscious capitalism” and “corporate social responsibility” entering our lexicon, there is a burgeoning need for professionals to learn the skill set this “trend” requires.
Enter the Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree.
Similar to the way a Master of Business Administration is utilized in the for-profit sector, an MPA offers management training in the nonprofit and public sectors.
The University of Oklahoma is among those teaching the MPA curriculum. The program began in Tulsa in 1983 and is offered on all three OU campuses. From the beginning, the university sent faculty from the Norman campus to Tulsa to teach the curriculum.
In 2014, OU hired a resident faculty member and recent MPA graduate to oversee and grow the Tulsa program.
In the first four months Meg Myers Morgan was on the job, Tulsa enrollment increased 70 percent.
“The other part of the success is in investing in our current students,” she says. “Since day one, that has been my biggest goal — invest in the bright bunch we currently have. They are extraordinary, and their excitement in the program has brought in many new students just by word of mouth.”
Those who pursue an MPA learn diverse skills.
“The program focuses on policy analysis, program evaluation, public and nonprofit management, budgeting and organizational behavior,” Myers Morgan says. “The greatest part of the program, and what sets it apart from others, is the ability to customize the coursework and its marketability.”
Graduates with an MPA are ambitious problem solvers who have a passion to better their community, she says.
One example is Ryan Gentzler, a bilingual research associate and student in the MPA program at OU-Tulsa, who recently received a research fellowship from the Oklahoma Policy Institute.
OPI is open to graduate students conducting research on pressing policy issues. Gentzler’s research focuses on school funding in Oklahoma by comparing our system to others in the region and trying to explain why the state’s per-pupil spending remains so low.
“My hope is to continue working on policy issues that affect low-income groups,” Gentzler says.
To ensure MPA coursework will meet community needs, Myers Morgan regularly meets with community leaders in the public and nonprofit sectors.
“I want to immerse our program in the community,” Myers Morgan says. “By that, I mean I want to find the greatest talent we have to offer. Then, I want to graduate students with an incredible set of skills to go back into our community to shape and improve it.”
It’s a vision she shares with her students.
“I hope to be able to contribute to the success of Tulsa’s growing nonprofit sector,” says Shaheen Sheikh, a Mine Fellow and OU-Tulsa MPA student.
She is working to start a Kitchen Incubator, which would help entreprenuers overcome barriers to starting a culinary business.
“Tulsa has so many organizations working toward bettering our community,” Sheikh says, “and I hope to help make that work more impactful.”