A few days ago, we had a wonderful announcement and reception for a new program at the McCourt School of Public Policy: an alliance with the National Urban Fellows (NUF). This alliance will bring to the School an annual cohort of 30-40 midcareer professionals to pursue a Master’s of Policy Management degree.
The mission of the NUF states, “National Urban Fellows develops accomplished and courageous professionals of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, particularly people of color and women, to be leaders and change agents in the public and nonprofit sectors, with a strong commitment to social justice and equity.” The program’s primary focus is to prepare Fellows to be leaders, managers, and analysts in public affairs, public administration, and public policy or related fields.
The NUF was started in the late 1960’s, a time of great unrest and violence in cities throughout the United States – a result of the combined ills from discrimination, poverty, residential segregation, and related injustices. With support from the Ford Foundation, the National League of Cities, the US Conference of Mayors and New Haven’s Community Action Institute, the National Urban Fellows program was built. From the base, other related programs were launched, all related to building new generations of leaders devoted to public service.
The typical fellow selected for the program is in her/his early 30’s with 6-8 years of post-baccalaureate experience. The academic curriculum is enriched by fellowship placements for real-world experience. These placements are in organizations that have agreed to take on mentoring responsibilities for the fellows. The fellows commit to disrupting their current lives to have on-campus experiences as well as placements away from their current home. At this point, there are scores of private sector and nonprofit sectors organizations that have played the mentoring role. Many of these then recruit the fellows who graduate into their ranks. There are hundreds of graduates of NUF who have obtained leadership roles in every sector of the society.
The National Urban Fellows program was seeking an academic partner that shared a set of values including pursuing the public interest with accountability and transparency; serving professionally with competence, efficiency and objectivity; acting ethically so as to uphold the public trust; demonstrating respect, equity and fairness in dealings with others, and fully recognizing the benefits of diversity and higher education.
In my experience, it is rare that two institutions find themselves so totally aligned in their mission. The McCourt School aspires to educate the next generation of leaders in public service, with deep attention to creating leaders that resemble the diverse society the US has become. NUF wants to help identify those leaders and seek support from partners for advanced education of them. The synergy was evident to the McCourt School immediately.
The first cohort of fellows will hopefully arrive in 2019. We seek to welcome them into our community, to learn from them, and enjoy the enrichment that they will offer to the classes they attend. We share the mission of the National Urban Fellows program, and treasure them as a new partner in the McCourt School’s mission.