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Professor earns honor from government management group


October 21, 2009

Dr. James Svara, professor in the School of Public Affairs and director of the Center for Urban Innovation at Arizona State University, recently received the 2009 Academic Award in Memory of Stephen B. Sweeney from ICMA, the international organization that advances professional local government management worldwide.

Established in the name of the longtime director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government, ICMA’s Academic Award in Memory of Stephen B. Sweeney is presented to an academic leader or institution that has made a significant contribution to the formal education of students pursuing careers in local government.

Svara has worked to bring the worlds of public administration and academia closer together. He has made great contributions to programs at three universities that prepare students for careers in local government. His teaching, research and writing have contributed to students’ understanding of the role of administrators and their relationship to elected officials.

Svara has prepared hundreds, perhaps thousands, of students to enter public service. Through his outreach and training, he contributes to the continuing education of local government managers as they advance through their careers.

At ASU, Svara helped establish the Marvin Andrews Graduate Program in Urban Management, and expanded the university’s activities in urban innovation.

He was one of the founding faculty members of the MPA degree at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and directed the program for six years. He also directed the MPA program at North Carolina State University for eight years and fostered the creation of the state’s first doctoral program in public administration.

Svara’s teaching has extended to training for elected officials and administrators. In Arizona, he organized a program for mayors and council members on facilitative leadership as well as leading training seminars for local government administrators.

Svara is an honorary member of ICMA and has served on a number of ICMA task forces, including the recent ICMA Strategic Planning Committee. He also is a longtime member of the National Association for Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA)-ICMA Task Force on Local Government Education and is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. He also serves on the board of the Alliance for Innovation.

Svara was recognized at a recent ceremony in conjunction with ICMA’s 95th Annual Conference in Montréal, Québec. He also was highlighted in a  commemorative booklet that appeared in the October 2009 issue of ICMA’s Public Management (PM) magazine.