FDU, United and Port Authority Offer Unique Master’s in Public Administration

By Naniyah McClain

Staff Writer

Somewhere in Newark Airport there is a classroom where, pre-pandemic, United Airlines employees studied public policy with Fairleigh Dickinson University professors in a unique program.

Fairleigh Dickinson University boasts it is a leading global institution, with many partnerships/programs. Most partnerships consist of career-enhancing specializations for non-traditional students on off-campus locations such as this one. 

The MPA Public Administration Program offers a unique program for United Airlines employees focused on public administration. This major prepares future leaders to create positive changes in their communities. 

Public administration majors learn about managing different levels of government (local, state and federal) and nonprofit organizations. 

Public policy master’s degree holders graduates earn an average of $19,000 more than their bachelor’s degree counterparts, according to the Census Bureau

The Equinox reached out to Audra Gordon, a graduate of the MPA Public Administration program, after graduating from Montclair State University. 

“I am a first-time graduate student of the program, to which I am very excited and look forward to working with career and likeminded colleagues who share a multiple of knowledge, resources and experiences in the professions,” Gordon said.  

About the Program

The MPA Public Administration program was founded by the school’s director, Dr. Peter Woolley, and is offered by FDU’s Graduate School of Public and Global Affairs. 

“[The program has] been in place for some years. We have about 50 P.A. employees in the Master of Public Administration program at any given time,” Woolley said. 

Public administration programs offered by New Jersey colleges include: Rutgers University with a 42-credit hybrid administration program, taught in Camden; Seton Hall with a 39-credit administration program in South Orange; and Kean University with a 36-credit administration program in Union.

Most programs offered at other institutions are taken on their respective campuses, but what makes FDU’s 39- to 42-credit administration program so special is that it is placed in a conference room at Building Number One in Newark Airport, which is dedicated to Port Authority operations. FDU is the only New Jersey institution that has this type of partnership with United Airlines/Newark Airport/Port Authority.

“As the partnership actually comes from NYNJ Port Authority to United Employees, the partnership is a newly offered program to Newark, N.J. But has been around with FDU reaching numerous cities,” Gordon said. 

FDU’s MPA Public Administration Program’s curriculum covers government, nonprofits, healthcare management, transportation and public service sectors. Classes usually are offered online, in-person or hybrid. This year, all MPA Public Administration program classes are online. 

When asked what made her want to join the program, Gordon responded with interest in the current state of affairs. 

“Having completed my degree from MSU in the field of communication concentrating in public relations, I felt it only prevalent to continue my educational career in the field of public administration concentrating in global transportation management, which has a great impact on my field of work, which is leadership in the airline industry,” Gordon said. 

Global transportation management, the planning of transporting assets and objects through delivery, is another area covered in the MPA Public Administration Program. GTM is one of the most important courses that will be taught in the coming year because this area of study is crucial in today’s time, especially with the Covid-19 pandemic having an effect on how products and services are handled

GTM is also important to Audra Gordon because of her 15-year experience of being a customer service supervisor/trainer/mentor for United Airlines. It is her responsibility to make sure that passengers make their flights in a timely fashion. 

FDU Student Benefits

There are many advantages to being a part of this program. The MPA program is great for airline employees who were not able to complete their educational requirements from prior schools’ because of their work commitments. 

The program can allow employees to complete their educational requirements without worrying about conflicting work schedules. 

“We realize that everyone’s situation is unique, which is why we’ve created the Progressive Approach. This tiered path gives you a flexible, customizable option to learn … on your terms!” the program’s information website states.

Graduate students who met the requirements mentioned above can apply to the career enhancement program for the Fall 2020 semester. The MPA Public Administration Program offers employee tuition benefits and scholarships

These benefits help students like Gordon make their impact in the world of public administration.

“The Port Authority, like many public agencies, is supportive of its personnel beyond the everyday workplace,” Woolley said. 

“The Port Authority encourages its employees to complete their college degrees and, later, to advance their education in any number of fields. The Port Authority encourages promotion, professional development, and leadership from within its employee ranks.”

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Art by Naniyah McClain