Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Prospective students visit campus

More than 40 prospective students participating in the La Follette School of Public Affairs’ Visit Day on Monday, March 28 learned the numerous advantages of attending the comparatively small program on the world-class University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

“It’s a very collaborative environment,” said Kelsey Hill, who received her master’s degree in public affairs (MPA) in 2013. “Everyone has your back.”  

With an annual class size of approximately 50 students, the La Follette School is consistently ranked among the best public affairs graduate programs in the United States and its faculty members are internationally recognized among the top researchers in public administration, said Director Susan Yackee.

“Plus, you’ll have a lot of opportunities to reach across the broader campus,” said Yackee, adding that many students take electives in the School of Education, Political Science Department, Law School and other academic areas. 

Yackee also shared the School’s focus on experiential learning, where students apply the skills they’ve learned to produce research-based, analytical, evaluative, and prescriptive reports for municipal government offices, international development organizations and other local, national and international clients. (The handout listing recent Workshop projects is online.)

Hill, a program and policy analyst for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, participated on the alumni panel with three graduates from the La Follette School’s master of international public affairs (MIPA) program: Katie Croake (2003), deputy chief of party and director of grassroots outreach in Bangladesh for Democracy International; Malika Taalbi (2014), project manager for the National Nuclear Security Administration in Washington, DC; and HJ Waukau (2012), policy and population health specialist for the Wisconsin Medical Society.

During the student panel, Demetri Vincze said La Follette School faculty members are not only exceptional researchers, they are excellent professors. Vincze, a second-year MPA student, offered his insights along with Richelle Andrae (first-year MPA), Kaubin Neupane (second-year MIPA), and Chris Stassel (first-year MIPA).

“You feel like someone really cares about your success no matter what that looks like,” said Andrae.

The prospective students – representing 13 states – also heard from faculty members Mark Copelovitz, associate professor of public affairs and political science; Jason Fletcher, associate professor of public affairs; and Tim Smeeding, UW-Madison’s Lee Rainwater distinguished professor of public affairs and economics. Brief bios of the alumni, student, and faculty panelists is online

Other benefits of the La Follette School are the quantitative-skills-based classes and the networking opportunities, said Waukau. “The skills I learned and the people I met are without a doubt unparalleled,” he said.

In addition to the three panel discussions, La Follette School Associate Director Hilary Shager (MPA ’05) provided details regarding degree requirements, elective courses, support services, professional development and other aspects of the programs. Her presentation slides are available online

Prospective students also had the opportunity Monday to sit in on two classes – Policy Analysis with Professor Pamela Herd and Statistical Methods for Public Policy Analysis with Associate Professor Geoffrey Wallace – and the La Follette School Student Association hosted an evening social at Union South.