MPA Students Studying Environmental Policy

MPA students studying environmental policy (PA 776 in Fall 2013) took a tour of Recology’s solid waste transfer and recycling facilities on October 23rd.  Also know as “the dump”, the facility is not a landfill at all, but is instead an important processing facility in San Francisco’s ambitious goal of diverting all solid waste away from landfills by 2020.

Recology Tour in PA 776

Professor Sheldon Gen and MPA students Olga Donich, Ruby Tumber, Gordon Matassa, and Stephen Bender (not pictured) visit the city’s recycling center.



Available For the First Time! SF State’s MPA Program 1 Unit Winter Session Short Courses UPDATED DATES

Winter 2014 launches SF State’s MPA program’s new one-unit courses.  These courses were developed through the Program’s curriculum revision process and will be offered in the Winter and Summer Sessions.  The courses, offered through the College of Extended Learning, are open to current students, interested alumni and other professionals in the field.  The courses are an in depth, fast past exploration into a current topic or skill in the field of public administration that are only 15 hours in length.

Winter 2014

  • PA 709: Logistic Regression/Advanced SPSS, Dr. Carol Silverman
  • PA 756: Data Mining and Visualization, Dr. Genie Stowers

PA 709: Logistic Regression/Advanced SPSS will cover two topics.

logisticThe first part will look at applied logistic regression, both binary and multinomial. Logistic regression is a statistical technique used when the analyst wishes to create a regression model where the dependent variable has two or more discrete values.

The second part of the course will be an advanced introduction to SPSS.  It will cover variable transformations, simple macros, file management and merges, and writing syntax statements. Requirements for the course involve conducting and interpreting a logistic regression analysis and weekly assignments using SPSS.


PA 756: Data Mining and Visualization will cover the new areas of open data, data mining and the data visualization field and their importance for government and nonprofits today.

With the advent of the open government movement throughout the world, more and more governments are putting their data online for citizens, nonprofits and private sector firms to use.


This has led to a new discipline, data science, and even a new type of job—the Data Scientist and Chief Data Officer.  This short course    will cover this introductory material and then focus on tools that can be used to access and analyze data, to “mine” data and to create data visualizations to help others understand the patterns and meanings within the data.

Other new courses:  Other 1 unit courses offered in the future include: Qualitative Data Analysis, Qualitative Interviewing, Logistic Regression, Collaborative Government, Organizational Ethics, Negotiation and Conflict Management, Pensions & Pension Administration, Big Data, Data Mining &Visualization, and Personal Leadership Development.


Both courses will be located at SF State’s Downtown Campus at 835 Market Street, conveniently located inside the Westfield Centre above the Powell Station in Downtown San Francisco.

PA 709: Logistic Regression/Advanced SPSS will be offered on Mon & Wed., Jan. 6-22, 6-9pm (DATES ARE UPDATED!)

PA 756: Data Mining and Visualization will be offered on 1/7/14, 1/14 and 1/21 from 5:30—9:30pm.

Future of Labor and Management–Friends and MPA Classmates

Given their jobs and career trajectories, Carrie Slaughter, Director of Labor Relations for the San Francisco Unified School District, and Amihan Makayan, California Teachers Association staff member and organizer, should be opponents.   Instead, they are friends and classmates in the SF State MPA program.  In fact, both are finishing their MPA degree in December 2012 and are in the culminating capstone course together.

What do they have in common?   Their dedication to the public service…

MPA Students
Here, their class has just finished doing presentations.   Carrie and Amihan gave back to back presentations on the facts about teacher dismissals and the rights of public employees.

MPA Students Provide Deliverables to SF CBOs

Eight teams of MPA students delivered presentations about their semester-long CBO (community-based organization) Support Projects in class on May 2.  Each team was paired with a CBO partner at the beginning of the semester and assigned to work with their CBO Partner to identify a project, develop and refine a scope of work, and deliver a final report, complete with recommendations for implementation, to the CBO Partner (these partners were selected using an on-line portal (  The projects ranged from conducting literature reviews on specific topics related to a particular program, to reviewing performance measurement indicators for a specific field and recommending a set to adopt, to designing, refining, and testing a range of program evaluation tools, to identifying issues thwarting a CBO’s ability to effectively manage and implement their programs.

We invited the CBO Partners to attend tonight’s class and hear the student presentations; six of the eight CBOs were in attendance.  Even though I haven’t read the final reports yet, after hearing the presentations – and more importantly, after hearing the CBO Partners’ reactions to those presentations – I am confident in saying that these student teams will have made substantial contributions in helping these CBOs more successfully manage and measure the outcomes of the programs they deliver.  Below I paraphrase just a few comments the CBO Partners made in response to the findings and recommendations the student teams made:

  • This is exactly the information I need to advance conversations we need to have within our organization, to ensure we are tracking the right outcomes.
  • I was just talking about these issues with my Director earlier today; we’ll implement these recommendations within the month!
  • Our organization has undergone so much transition recently and we are trying to adapt and implement a program here that has been successful overseas.  But we had no model and limited capacity for doing that.  These recommendations will help greatly as we move forward.
  • I submitted a letter of intent to a funder earlier today.  If we get invited to submit a full proposal, I’ll be able to use the findings from this report in that proposal.

In short, these student teams did an effective job at creating quality, evidence-based final reports that include recommendations (including some words of caution about potential pitfalls) for their CBO Partners that are feasible for these organizations to implement almost immediately.  This is no small feat!  But, in looking over at the MPA’s new draft mission statement (on this blog), it seems to be in line what we are aiming to achieve.

Many thanks to Amy Farah Weiss for the vision and support, as well as to SF State’s Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, which provided some grant funding to develop the community service learning component of this course.