By: Charles Menifield
Who or what inspired you to work in public service?
After graduating from the University of Missouri, I found great rewards in political science research. However, I quickly discerned that I was the main beneficiary of my work as I was simply publishing to meet the requirements for tenure and promotion. A few years into the profession I decided that I wanted to conduct research that helped people and made a difference in improving public policy. So, I started working in the budgeting and financial management area. While successful, I was still not satisfied. So, I made a slight pivot and started doing research in the health care area. This is when I knew that my research could make a difference if policymakers paid attention. Since then, I have published about ten articles and book chapters in this area.
What is something you are excited about right now?
I am really excited about my research on the impact of influenza, COVID-19, and policing on minority groups. All of this research highlights many inequities in our public policies and plots a path to bring about justice and real equality in our society.
What is your favorite class you have ever taught or taken and why?
My favorite class is research methods. I love to collect data, run the analysis, and write up the findings. I find it very exciting to find the answer to a research question or hypotheses. I remember when I arrived at the University of Missouri in 2012. This was the time when the news indicated that minorities were targets of policing killings. I wanted to know if that was true, so I started collecting data to answer the question. Four years later, I published a paper in Public Administration Review with the answer and path to solving the problem. I have added two more years of data to the dataset with some additional variables on community policing and organization (race and gender of mayors and police chiefs).
What inspires you during these challenging times?
We have a lot of students at Rutgers University Newark who come from humble backgrounds. I am inspired by their tenacity to overcome obstacles that could prevent them from completing their degrees. It is my goal to do whatever I can to not only provide them a chance to be successful but to also provide them the support that they need to bring their goals to life.
What advice can you give to folks beginning careers in public service?
Try and figure out what your passion is as quickly as possible and don’t waste time publishing for the sake of publishing. If you work on projects that you enjoy, it really doesn’t feel like work. Also, locate like-minded individuals and work with them. It is always good to have another voice(s) at the table in the form of a mentor or coauthor.
What is your favorite midnight snack?
Unfortunately, I like sweets at night. I normally eat a slice of pie or have a few cookies right before I go to bed. It is a terrible habit for someone who is pre-diabetic.
Do you have any pets at home?
No. However, I love dogs and have lived with dogs most of my life. Apartment living really isn’t conducive to having a dog and I spend 60 plus hours a week working, so I don’t really have the time to manage a dog right now.
If you could witness any historical event, what would you want to see?
I would like to see Moses Fleetwood Walker play his first game in major league baseball. He was the first black man to play in league who openly acknowledged his race in 1884.
Do you have a favorite podcast, journal, newspaper, or other kind of media?
I tend to listen to CNN most of the time for political news. I will switch to FOX News to hear an alternative view.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best advice I received came from my lips. Never believe the first story that you hear and never commit to anything without collecting an adequate amount of information. A lot of people that I meet seek their own advantage and not those of the organization. As an administrator, I have to keep the big picture in focus and that comes through the accumulation of knowledge.