By Vinny Reda (May
UAlbany Dean Receives CUNY Distinguished Alumni Honor
The journey from being a graduate student in political science at a public university to being the dean of a college which encompasses political science at a public university would seem a rather direct one.
Not so, says Jeffrey D. Straussman, dean of UAlbany's Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy. That is what he relayed to graduate students, faculty and alumni of the PhD/M.A. program in political science of the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center on May 2, when he accepted the Department of Political Science's Distinguished Alumni Award for 2007.
"It very often is anything but a straight line to where your career will take you," said Straussman. "My career demonstrates that when you start out as a grad student and begin your career as a professor, you really don't know where those beginnings are going to take you. In my case, it's been more like completing a circle, actually."
At CUNY, Straussman's focus was on comparative politics, but that changed during his teaching and research career, first at State University College, Fredonia, then Michigan State University and then Syracuse University. "Along the way, I started to concentrate on public administration — especially public financial management." He published several highly regarded books on these topics through the 1980s and 1990s.
"Then, in the 1990s, I returned to my early interest in comparative politics." In 1992, he was a Fulbright Scholar at Budapest University of Economic Sciences, where he taught public management and policy analysis. He has returned to Hungary and other Eastern European countries many times since, as both teacher and consultant, and his interest in the political economy of countries in transition has produced several published works, including articles translated into Hungarian, Russian and Ukrainian.
"What has happened is that I have combined my research interests in comparative politics with my work in public administration, so that today my field can be termed comparative administration and policy," said Straussman.
Such broad range of expertise made him an ideal choice in 2006 to become the leader of Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy — what he calls "one of the nation's top institutions dedicated to both the study and practice of political science, public affairs and public policy."