Bernards Township Partners with Rutgers to Offer Mini MPA™ Certificate

Bernards Township, N.J. offers Rutgers Mini-MPA program to municipal government employees

On-Site Program Boosts Leadership Development, Team Building, Succession Planning

Bernards Township (September 22, 2016) — Hundreds of New Jersey public officials travel to the Rutgers New Brunswick campus for management and certification training each year. Now, Rutgers is bringing the faculty to the students: 20 municipal government employees are pursuing professional education at their work site in Bernards Township in Somerset County.

Twenty municipal workers in Bernards began course work in spring 2015 for a customized Mini-Master of Public Administration™ (Mini-MPA) certificate program ​— delivered by the Center for Executive Leadership in Government (CELG), part of Rutgers Division of Continuing Studies.

The Mini MPA™ is an accelerated, 30-hour program led by Rutgers faculty and experienced practitioners. Successful course completion is accepted for three graduate credits toward the MPA degree offered by the Rutgers-Camden Department of Public Policy and Administration.

Bernards Township offered the education opportunity to recognize and develop employees who have expressed an interest and show a talent for leadership, noted Terri Johnson, chief financial officer of Bernards Township.

Every department within the township—including the library, information technology, engineering, parks and recreation, health, public works, finance, police and the Sewerage Authority—has employees that completed the certificate program in fall 2016.

“Many of the Mini MPA™ participants know the workings of their own departments inside and out,” noted Johnson. “But they may not have had the opportunity to meet colleagues from different departments and appreciate all of the elements involved in the business of managing a town.”

Officials in the Somerset County municipality asked Rutgers CELG if it would deliver its Mini-MPA ™ program on site in town rather than in New Brunswick, and spread its classes over a number of months to allow employees to complete the certification and to lower the cost to the township. Working together, CELG and Bernards officials selected 10 classes from a list of seminars offered in its Mini-MPA™ program.

Each three hour session was taught by Rutgers faculty in a graduate seminar format.  Additionally, Bernards provided township-specific information sessions presented by department heads and subject matter experts, to expand understanding of the entirety of the Township organization though exposure to each department and its challenges. Class participants also work on projects and provide ideas from their perspective, as well as their departments’ perspectives, to suggest new cost-savings, strategies for information-sharing, and smart new ways to conduct business.

Township leaders view these learning opportunities as a way to invest in key staff over time to ensure a pipeline of talent for the future, noted Johnson. They also believe that the program will develop relationships to last for years and enhance future departmental communication and business results.

“Rutgers’ CELG was wonderful in working with us,” said Johnson. “They brought their faculty to us, listened to what our challenges were, and organized classes around our schedules during the workweek,” said Johnson. “The Bernards Township Committee is very supportive of the program, and we absolutely recommend this program to other municipalities.”

Angie McGuire, Ph.D., associate director of CELG and assistant professor in the Department of Public Affairs and Administration, Rutgers-Camden, commended the mayor and members of the Township Committee for “recognizing the need to assist their management team in addressing best practices and staying current with the latest changes in the field.”

Rutgers CELG offers local-site training for other government agencies and municipalities with enough employees interested in enrolling in the program.

For more information, please visit http://celg.rutgers.edu/.

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