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Meet Our Fellows: Barry Bozeman

Fellow Spotlight

By: Barry Bozeman

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Who or what inspired you to work in public service?

More what than who. I was a Viet Nam, civil rights era, War on Poverty young adult. It was in the wind. With some of us it resulted in a lifelong commitment to public service and public values and with others it was a "phase," a stopping point on the way to being investment bankers. Here is a "who" list: (1) federal Judge Frank Johnson (stone cajones); (2) John Lewis, a "regular guy" who was courageous, moral and a hero; (3) Georgia Tech historian Melvin Kranzberg, who encouraged my entry in to science and public policy and was my "sponsor" for a job as an analyst at the National Science Foundation. BTW: Melvin was, literally, the first widely recognized historian of technology, essentially inventing the field, and was the founder of the Society of the History of Technology.

What is something you are excited about right now?

Wow! That is a broad question! Here are some recent excitations, people and things (most positive, a few negative): Devin Booker, Mary Halvorsen, Redneck Noir fiction, public values leadership, off the grid camping, Christian Pulisic, Purple Arizona, James McBride, scorpion morphology, Larry David, improving my Spanish, amelioration of climate change (the ultimate collective action dilemma), and, related, preserve the human species, Machado De Assis, automated "robotic" management and customer service, the gap between US health expenditures and US health outcomes, worm farming, open source publishing.

What is your favorite class you have ever taught or took and why?

Taught: impossible. I make it a point to teach most topics only once or twice, so there are too many to choose from, everything from Research Methods in Public Adminsitration, to Sports Economics, to Higher Education Policy, to Scientometic Applications. Took: My most memorable was my undergraduate course on Sociological Theory where the professor (he shall go nameless but he was a Harvard-trained Amenian structuralist) began the class with this statement: "The first and most important thing for you to remember is that compared to me you are all ignorant peasants." Of course he was right. We became good friends.

What inspires you during these challenging times?

(1) The very small percentage of elected officials, both members of Congress and state legislators, who put the public interest ahead of their own and their party's electoral interests. Give me some time, a lot of it, and I will think of some of these exemplary people. (2) Those more optimistic than I.

What advice can you give to folks beginning careers in public service?

Fortunately, I get a chance to do this nearly every day. It is called 'teaching public administration.' How about this:

"If you are looking to make public service 'business like,' then you might be happier in business. Most of the best things about public service have little to do with efficiency or wealth creation."

What is your favorite midnight snack?

That's tough. I am a snacker, but not a midnight snacker. Favorite snack- fruit and nuts, very paleo.

Do you have any pets at home?

One messed up rescue dog, Hamish, our Scottish terrier. Two cats, Pete the Cat and Jim Gaughan (the latter named after my incredibly earnest father-in-law, who never got the joke).

If you could witness any historical event, what would you want to see?

I would have liked to have been on the podium when Martin Luther King gave his "I Have A Dream" speech. I would have liked to have been in the stands when Hank Aaron hit his record-breaking 715th home run (in fact, I was!)

Do you have a favorite podcast, journal, newspaper, or other kind of media?

Favorites: New York Times, The Economist, Arizona Republic, New Yorker, New York Review of Books (well, I did live in New York for 15 years, after all), Downbeat, Fresh Air (podcast), Journal of Technology Transfer, Issues in Science and Technology.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

"Son, forget about playing baseball. Go to grad school." Saved me from 10 years in the minors and a job later as an auto salesman.

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