Miami University political science students learned first hand what issues local and state officials face in governing when they attended the Ohio Township Association (OTA) annual conference Feb. 8-11 in Columbus.
More than 1,500 state and locally elected officials attended the conference to participate in specialized workshops. Ohio Governor John Kasich spoke to the group on the challenges public leaders face in governing their communities.
The initiative, in its fifth year, is led by Philip Russo, Miami political science professor and director of Miami’s Center for Public Management and Regional Affairs (CPMRA).
The participating students, 21 undergraduate public administration majors and two graduate students, attended the conference as part of their senior capstone seminar in the study of public policy and practice of policy analysis. The course emphasizes understanding the nature of public problems and the processes of formulating, implementing and evaluating public policy responses.
This year’s Miami student group was recognized during a special general session by OTA president Greg Hanahan. Students also met in private briefings with Mike Dittoe, director of communications and policy adviser to Speaker William G. Batchelder of the Ohio House of Representatives; Representative Tim Derickson (Ohio 53rd District); and J. Christopher Woolard, research and evaluation manager at the Ohio Department of Education.
“I always look forward to each year as Dr. Russo brings his best and brightest students to the conference,” said Belle Everett, a trustee for Warwick Township in Tuscarawas County and OTA board director. “These enthusiastic students are Ohio’s future leaders. Their interest in Ohio local government shows we can end ‘Ohio’s brain drain’, and I hope and pray they stay, and I am lucky enough to still be around to work with them.”
“This conference is ideal,” noted Jared Sloan, senior. “It is exactly the type of learning I had hoped to be doing months before graduating. I was not only learning, but I was using skills taught to me in the public administration program ... this is real.”
Randall Davis, assistant professor of political science and fellow with CPMRA, said, “It’s rewarding to see a group of students embrace the values and ideals of public service at a time when government organizations struggle to attract the best and brightest to public employment.”
Miami’s CPMRA engages in applied public policy and management research, technical assistance services, training and education and database development in the areas of public management and capacity building, local government economic development, planning and public program evaluation and policy research.