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Venture Voices

The Bush School’s Public Service Leadership Program

Posted on October 9, 2012
Joe Cerami '87
Director, Public Service Leadership Program, Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University
In August 2001, Dr. Joe Cerami joined the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. He teaches courses in national security policy and leadership studies in the Master's Program in International Affairs. He was appointed as the founding director of the Bush School's Public Service Leadership Program in 2002. During a 30-year military career, Colonel Cerami (U.S. Army, Retired) served in Germany and the Republic of Korea. His last military assignment was as the chairman of the Department of National Security and Strategy at the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, from 1998-2001.

“Public Service is a noble calling and we need men and women of character to believe they can make a difference in their communities, in their states and in their country.” - George H.W. Bush

The Bush School’s Leadership Program was founded in 2002 and based on President Bush’s ideal that public service is a noble calling and requires men and women of character who can make a difference. The program’s mission is to support the faculty and students in educating principled leaders for careers in public service and international affairs, integrating leader development within the Bush School experience, conducting leadership research and outreach activities, and producing leadership publications. The dean and faculty have defined both leadership and leader development for the Bush School:
Leadership is the art of influencing people, organizations, and institutions to accomplish missions that serve the public interest.
Leader development is the art of educating people in the theory and practice of leadership in the context of public service.

The Public Service Leadership Program integrates the development of student leadership knowledge, skills, attributes, and values throughout the two-year Bush School experience. Leadership education is reinforced in three ways: through the academic curriculum (courses, workshops, and lectures); experiential learning (participation in internships, the Public Service Organization, the Student Government Association, intramurals, and community activities); and self-study (individual development plans and self and peer assessment instruments).

In 2007, the Dean instituted a formal Certificate in Leadership. Earning a Dean’s Certificate requires formal education (completing the Bush core leadership course); participation in leader development workshops; and assessment (such as the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator-MBTI), Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory, Personal Assessment Management Skills (PAMS), and self-Capstone research team-peer assessments). Prior to graduation, students complete an individual leadership plan that highlights their two years of leader development, including service and leadership activities. The development plan is reviewed periodically in coaching sessions with a practitioner or the program director or assistant director.

The PSLP also hosts a Conversations-in-Leadership speaker series that supplements the Dean’s Conversations-in-Leadership speakers program. Conversations-in-Leadership focuses on small, informal question-and-answer sessions with public servants. These sessions happen throughout the year and involve speakers with local, state, national, and international public service experience.

The National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration’s accreditation of the Bush School’s MPSA program reviewed the PSLP. A highlight of their assessment stated, “The program has a very strong leadership component consisting of coursework and work with the Leadership Development Program. Students’ leadership skills and potential are assessed through the Leadership Program, using nationally recognized competency and strength assessment instruments with feedback, coaching, and career planning enhancement features. Ethical leadership is a major feature of the program.”

For questions about the leadership program, see http://bush.tamu.edu/pslp and contact Dr. Joe Cerami at jcerami@bushschool.tamu.edu, or Ms. Holly Kasperbauer at hkasperbauer@bushschool.tamu.edu.

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