The University of Massachusetts Amherst

SPP Kicks Off Year with Gov. Deval Patrick

Collage made of headshots of the new students

The UMass Amherst School of Public Policy kicked off the 2020 academic year on August 28 with a new-student orientation and a community discussion with former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

SPP welcomes its largest-ever incoming cohort this year, with about 50 students beginning its Master of Public Policy and Master of Public Policy & Administration programs. Students in the new cohort come from Myanmar, Bangladesh, Brazil, Costa Rica, and the United States. Their interests include housing policy, healthcare, education, nonprofits, women’s rights, immigration and refugee policy, racial and social justice, criminal justice policy, voting rights, land use, labor policy, food justice, income and wealth inequality, economic development, technology, urban policy, and natural and cultural preservation.

The day began with ice-breaking activities for the new students, where they shared what inspired them to study public policy, as well as opportunities for them to connect with SPP faculty. Later, the entire SPP community gathered for a conversation with Patrick, Massachusetts’ first African American governor, who served from 2007 to 2015 (photo below). Patrick shared his thoughts on topics ranging from the current climate of political divisiveness, the importance of advocacy work, the long-range effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the struggle for social justice. He also answered questions from students and offered advice about pursuing public service careers.

The new students enter the School of Public Policy as the program completes a yearlong reorganization, including the addition of faculty tenure lines in the program. This year, four new faculty members have joined SPP with tenure homes in the program, while an additional five faculty members have moved their tenure lines into the unit. In coming years, SPP will continue to expand its graduate programs and add an undergraduate major, among other initiatives.

“This is an exciting time to be at SPP, as we lay the foundation for continued growth,” said Director Alasdair Roberts. “Our students have decided to pursue careers in public service at a crucial moment in history. We’re proud to offer academic and professional development opportunities that will prepare them to become leaders in their fields.”

Watch Deval Patrick's talk.

About the School of Public Policy: Established in 2016, the UMass Amherst School of Public Policy prepares students for leadership in public service. The program’s focuses include social change and public policy related to science and technology.

Contact: Maureen Turner, communications manager, School of Public Policy


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