GRADUATES OF WCU'S MPA PROGRAM ARE AMONG                                                                            

CULLOWHEE – A ceremony Friday, April 15, to recognize promotions within the Asheville Police Department looked a bit like a class reunion as half of the officers moving up in the ranks are graduates of Western Carolina University.

Five of the police officers receiving promotions studied in Western's master's degree program in public affairs. The MPA program, designed for managers, executives and other leaders looking for career development, provides advanced training to help graduates prepare for leadership and management positions.

Jeff Richardson, assistant city manager for Asheville, said the city has long recognized the importance of ongoing educational development for its professional staff.

“Police officers have some of the most demanding jobs of any profession in local government. In addition to traditional police training skills, they must have excellent communication and problem-solving skills. They tackle some of the most stressful and potentially dangerous situations communities face,” Richardson said. “Graduate-level classes in the MPA program help these officers grow and provide them with skills and confidence that they need to handle this type of work. In addition, they are exposed to advanced administrative management and leadership training, which is critical to them as they pursue promotional opportunities.”

Among the Western graduates earning promotions is Sarah Benson, an August 2001 graduate of the MPA program who earned her bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Western in 1996. Benson is the first female ever promoted to the rank of captain and division commander in the Asheville Police Department.

“I find my degree to be invaluable day in and day out,” she said. “It has broadened my views and has given me a better understanding of everyday problems and issues facing the public sector and public service fields. As I look back over the MPA program, the benefits of the courses have been extremely useful almost daily in my law enforcement career and in my personal life. Earning my degree has given me the knowledge that I need to succeed in my position of leadership. There is no doubt that my degree has helped me advance in my career.”

Other former Western students scheduled to receive promotions:

From captain to major – Ted Lambert, who earned his master's degree in public affairs in August 2001.

From lieutenant to captain –Tim Splain, a December 2002 graduate of the MPA program.

From sergeant to lieutenant – Daryl Fisher, a December 2004 MPA graduate.

From officer to sergeant – Taylor Fulcher, a student in the MPA program; Sean Pound, who earned his bachelor's degree in criminal justice in August 2004; Charles Sams, an August 1997 graduate with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.

The MPA degree combines a core of general public managerial courses with courses in a specialization chosen according to the student's career plans. Specializations include management, public finance, criminal justice, health care, arts management and human resource management. Courses are offered primarily in the evenings at the Graduate Center on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

“We are so proud of our former MPA students,” said Gibb Knotts, director of the MPA program. “Each of these students brought a wealth of real-world experiences to the classroom. Our program has a tremendous relationship with the city of Asheville, and we look forward to working closely with Asheville as well as other cities and counties throughout the Western North Carolina region.” 

For more information, contact Knotts at (828) 227-3855.

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Last modified: Monday, April 18, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Western Carolina University