Jacksonville University hired former City General Counsel and mayoral candidate Rick Mullaney as the founding director of the JU Public Policy Institute, which is designed to develop a comprehensive public policy program at the university and build the first master’s degree in public policy in Florida. The program includes an academic program, community programs and midcareer and professional programs. Mullaney also was chief of staff for former Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney and an assistant state attorney.
What is your first order of business in creating the institute?
The first order of business is to work closely with JU’s faculty to establish the academic program and, at the same time, create a nonpartisan advisory board made up of respected and visionary community leaders. The academic program includes a master’s degree in public policy (MPP), three joint degree programs (J.D., MBA and marine science), and non-degree certificate programs. JU, with more than 170 full-time faculty members, one doctoral program, six graduate master’s degree programs and more than 70 undergraduate majors, programs and concentrations, will be the first university in the state to provide these degrees and programs.
What benchmark do you want to reach within the first year?
An MPP degree is an interdisciplinary degree requiring study in economics, political science, statistics, ethics, leadership and public policy analysis. During the first year, we want to create a solid foundation for the MPP degree and institute. This includes faculty support and approval of the academic program, establishing a nonpartisan advisory board, offering courses at JU in public policy and accepting applications late in 2012 for the JU MPP and joint degree programs.
Which local issues have you identified as the initial potential conference topics?
Local policy issues for conferences and forums will be selected collaboratively with JU faculty, the institute’s advisory board and policymakers. I expect education and economic development to be high on the list.
How will you use the lessons learned in your mayoral campaign?
In the mayor’s race, as in the presidential campaign and other political campaigns, there is often a premium on sound bites, slogans, and 30-second solutions to complex problems. There is a real need, however, locally and nationally, for substantive public policy discussion and structured education and training in public policy analysis. The institute will seek to provide substantive education and training to help prepare future public servants, leaders, and those who will work in the nonprofit and private sectors. It also will seek to serve all of Jacksonville as a resource and forum on public policy issues.
What’s your first and most important piece of advice to pre-law undergraduate students?
As I told my daughter, who is now a senior in college, performing well as an undergraduate creates options, including the option of going to law school. Regardless of major, pre-law students need to develop their communication skills (written and spoken), analytic thinking, take a variety of courses and perform well academically. Making good grades is a reality of getting into law school.