It is a great pleasure to be writing to you, alumni and friends, as the new associate director of the La Follette School of Public Affairs. Some of you were students when I was associate director once before, in 1995-98. Others of you were alumni connecting to students through our just-formed student association. Since I completed that term as associate director, an impressive (in number and quality) 220 students have graduated.
Our alumni are working all over the globe—in Wisconsin municipalities, state governments around the United States, international corporations, nonprofit organizations and U.S. agencies here and abroad.
Our presence abroad and in U.S. international agencies has increased with a growing number of alumni holding Masters of International Public Affairs, a degree the La Follette School initiated in 2000 with fewer than a dozen students. Five years later, this fall’s MIPA class is about twice that size, thanks in part to the leadership of Professor Melanie Manion, who completed her three-year term as associate director this summer.
The support of alumni and the influence they have around the world has become even more apparent to me as the fall semester has gotten under way. The reputation of our alumni, your own recommendations and your financial support helped us attract a strong and very able class of 2007. The students bring a wealth of experience, from interning with the U.S. Department of Commerce and multinational corporations, to researching U.S. Supreme Court retirements and global governance of ocean fisheries, to teaching in France, Italy and the Czech Republic.
Three alumni played important roles in this fall’s orientation that welcomed more than 50 first-year students. Katie Croake (MIPA class of 2003) Kirstin Nelson, (MIPA 2002) and Jason Bittner (MPA 2000) shared stories about their jobs since graduation and advised students how best to prepare in the two years ahead for careers in a world of changing job options and policy issues.
Croake is a senior policy analyst with the U.S. Agency for International Development. Before attending the La Follette School, she taught in Lebanon for an extended period. Nelson spent a couple of years as an analyst with the U.S. Government Accountability Office, then moved back to Wisconsin to become an individual income tax analyst with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. Bittner is the deputy director of the Midwest Regional University Transportation Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has been with the center since 1999.
I look forward to the two years the entering class will spend at the La Follette School of Public Affairs. I am excited about recruiting the class of 2008 and seeing the current second year become alumni of an ever-growing and stronger program. I value the role of alumni in encouraging applications, advising students, providing internships and giving financial support. If you are living in or visiting Madison, let us know if you would like to talk to students. The relationships students and faculty build with alumni are at the core of the training the La Follette School of Public Affairs provides to prepare policy analysts and decision-makers.