In 1990, the University established The Institute of Public Policy (TIPP) to house the new Ph.D. program in Public Policy. In 2000, the Board of Visitors changed the status of TIPP to the School of Public Policy (SPP).
The school is home to one of the nation's largest doctoral programs in public policy. Five of its faculty hold endowed chairs, four are University Professors, four are members of the National Academy of Public Administration and one is the nation’s first Ad personam Jean Monnet Chair.
In addition to its academic programs listed below, SPP is one of the major research units of the university. SPP's research activities are carried out through its eight research centers. In the most recent ranking by the National Science Foundation of research expenditures by discipline, SPP was ranked 1st in the country. The school supports over 50 graduate research assistants.
SPP is preparing to move into its new building on the Arlington Campus in late 2010. This will bring all of SPP’s academic programs together in one location for the first time. SPP will still continue to have a significant presence in Fairfax through the Mason Enterprise Center which focuses on outreach and economic development activites throughout the region and across the Commonwealth.
Despite the challenging economic times, interest in SPP academic programs continues to grow. For Fall 2009, enrollment grew by nearly 10% with applications for the International Commerce and Policy program increasing by over 15%. Our most significant challenge will be to increase our resource base to more closely match our current rate of enrollment growth.
Perhaps an even greater challenge is the transition to new leadership in the coming years—both among administrators and faculty. Many of the school’s long time leadership will step down at the end of the current academic year and there will be a number of key retirements over the next three years. A successful transition will depend on maintaining a high level of faculty cohesion and continuing to recruit distinguished senior faculty.
Finally, in order to maintain our current competitive advantage in attracting and retaining students, we must continue to provide high quality student services and student financial aid, including competitively funded graduate assistantships, at a time of diminishing budgets.
Policy studies remains one of the university’s top priorities and SPP plays a central role in achieving Mason’s aspirations to be the region’s leading academic institution in the field. In order to do so, SPP is undertaking a thorough review of its academic programs. Upon completion, these reviews will lead to revisions on our curriculua as well as the possible expansion of some programs and the addition of new areas of emphasis. SPP will continue to strengthen its cooperative relationships with other policy units of the university as it has done in the past year with the College of Health and Human Services and the School of Law.
Sponsored research will continue to be central to the future of SPP. Currently, outside funding accounts for over 50% of our annual expenditures and supports nearly 90% of our graduate research assistants. In addition, grants and contracts provide an essential linkage to a wide range of government agencies at the federal, state and local level as well as non-governmental organizations, foundations, think-tanks and trade associations.
Global outreach will grow in importance both in terms of externally funded activities as well as academic programs. SPP has successfully launched the university’s first “dual degree” program this year with a major Korean university and will develop a set of programs with other international institutions in the coming years.