By: Barton Wechsler
Barton Wechsler (' 15): Dean Emeritus, Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs, University of Missouri-Columbia
Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in public administration?
From an early age, I believed that collective action was required to solve big problems and ensure that society functioned effectively and equitably. I admired exemplary public servants and wanted to help educate future generations for public service.
Who has been a key mentor or source of inspiration for you?
My most important and inspiring academic mentor was Robert Backoff at Ohio State--he modeled intellectual rigor, concern for students, and commitment to the public good that exemplified the PA academy at its best. Frank Sherwood, who was my first chair at Florida State, showed me that there were many paths to excellence and that there could be a powerful synergy among research, teaching, and public outreach.
What is your favorite class you have ever taken and why?
My favorite class was "Strategic Management" because it epitomized the intersection of policy and public management and provided a grounding for the synergy of research, teaching, and outreach that underlay my career.
What advice would you give to those interested in pursuing a career in public administration?
Stay committed to the values that brought you
to public service.
What would you currently consider the most critical challenge for public administration and why?
The loss of confidence in our
institutions and the
competence of those who serve in them
as the politicization of
critical functions of public
public service carried out by
neutral public officials.
What is your favorite hobby or activity that you enjoy doing in your free time?
I'm principally a reader (of
everything from three
daily newspapers to current affairs
What was your dream job as a child?
Although I don't if this is apocryphal, but my parents claimed that I settled on becoming a professor at an early age. For a long time, I thought I'd be a lawyer.