School of Education creates new online graduate program for public administrators

October 24, 2006

DEARBORN / Oct. 24, 2006---This spring, the University of Michigan-Dearborn will launch an Internet-based graduate program geared toward providing professional development opportunities for the more than 1,700 local government administrators in the state of Michigan.

UM-Dearborn’s Local Government Management Initiative (LGMI) is a five-year partnership with the Michigan Municipal League (MML) and the Michigan Local Government Management Association (MLGMA). The program will be closely aligned with the International City Management Association’s (ICMA) requirements for its voluntary credentialing program for city managers and assistant city managers, according to public administration Prof. Seth Hirshorn, who is overseeing the project.

“The Local Government Management Initiative will provide the educational support and opportunities necessary for the ICMA credentialing process by exploring the 18 competencies identified by ICMA as necessary for local government management,” Hirshorn said.

The 14-course program will launch this spring with its first four courses on budgeting and finance, strategic planning, communications and media, and citizen participation. The remaining 10 courses will be added to the course schedule within the next year, Hirshorn said.

The courses are expected to be a hit among city administrators--especially those in communities with a population of less than 10,000--who are dealing with tight budgets and may not have the resources or time available for managers to attend conferences and other professional development opportunities.

“The LGMI online courses may be done at students own pace and on their own time,” according to UM-Dearborn lecturer Brian Murphy, who serves as assistant city manager of Troy and who worked with Hirshorn to develop the LGMI. “For instance, they can work on a course at 2 a.m. while they’re in pajamas, or while their kids are at the soccer game.”

“The LGMI will address the financial and time constraints that have reduced opportunities for professional development for Michigan local government managers in recent years," according to Jack Duso, assistant city manager of Midland, who will serve as an advisor for the LGMI’s citizen participation course in the spring. “The Michigan Local Government Management Association is very excited about this timely initiative that will ultimately benefit the citizens of Michigan communities through the professional development of their respective local government managers."

His colleague Randall Byrne, MLGMA president and Grand Blanc city manager, agrees. “This important project makes the latest training technology available to Michigan's city, township and county managers,” Byrne said. “In these difficult economic times, we will be able to get the needed training at a very reasonable cost. I view this project as an extremely valuable tool to advance our skills for the benefit of our citizens.”

Colleen Layton, director of member resource services for the Michigan Municipal League, shares their enthusiasm for the project.

"The Michigan Municipal League is pleased to be a partner in bringing this online curriculum program to local government managers,” Layton said. “This important learning tool will give managers an additional opportunity to conveniently access the course work necessary for the ICMA Voluntary Credentialing program. It will particularly benefit those who might not otherwise have the ability to do so."

The LGMI courses won’t be traditional academic online classes, but more clinical in nature, emphasizing practical knowledge and skills that have value in the city management community, Murphy said.

“This program will explore areas where people may not have experience, like issuing bonds or how to read and make use of audit reports,” Murphy said. “They will be able to apply what they learn to their most recent audit report and present case studies as part of the course.”

The LGMI is a five-year partnership among UM-Dearborn, the MLGMA and the MML. Hirshorn said he hopes there will be a market to continue and expand the initiative after that by offering more advanced courses and classes on specialized topics.

For more information about the Local Government Management Initiative, contact Hirshorn at shirsh@umich.edu or 313-436-9172.

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PHONE: 313-593-5644
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