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November 8, 2005
DH 05 RH25
Contact: Russ Hudson,
Media Relations Coordinator
(310) 243-2455/2001

CSUDH PAA Chapter Wins National Award over 250
Other Universities

A national award for the depth, breadth and quality of its programs was given to the CSU Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) chapter of Pi Alpha Alpha (PAA), the honor society for the field of public affairs and public administration. The Dominguez Hills chapter was among 250 chapters at top universities across the United States that were candidates for the award.

The award took some in the chapter by surprise.

 “When I heard that we had won, I first was surprised and excited, and then I thought, ‘what did we do to deserve this?’” says PAA treasurer, Sherriel Murry (M.P.A., 2002).
It may have seemed ordinary to Murry, but to the national body, their work was exemplary. The award is given each year to the PAA chapter that offers a variety of programs for students, involves alumni, contributes to the success of the national organization, and demonstrates strong management while fulfilling the general goals of scholarship, leadership, and excellence in public administration education. Last year, the CSUDH chapter offered two major networking and career opportunity events on campus, introduced the organization to incoming MPA students during orientation, and inducted 27 new members for a total of around 200. They also simply continued to do the same things the 200-member organization has done year-in and year-out since its inception in 1984 by offering a strong network and peer-motivated environment for those within the CSUDH’s public administration program. Members of the organization must maintain an in-major 3.5 grade-point average for undergraduates and 3.7 for master’s students.

For Assistant Professor of Public Administration Iris Baxter, the award had even more significance because she has been involved since 1992, first as a CSUDH student herself, and now as the organization’s faculty advisor. “I don’t think I realized the scope of it all until one of the students was on the Internet and showed me we had won out of some 250 chapters at top universities across the country,” she says.

Baxter accepted the award at the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) annual meeting last month in Washington, D.C. For her, the best part of the recognition was the way in which it spread word of CSUDH across the country. “When I was at the conference, so many people from all over the world congratulated me. Some knew who we were, but some didn’t. They asked me general questions about campus and our program – it really put our name out there,” she says. “That’s what we want to do – get Dominguez Hills’ name out there to the nation and beyond – and this award did all of that.”

The chapter wasted no time in getting to work at the outset of the year by introducing the organization to incoming MPA students during their orientation before classes began. They followed it up with a public sector career panel in November 2004, titled “Up Close and Personal with Public Sector Leaders.” The success and response to that event led to another career panel, this time focused on criminal justice careers, in March 2005.
A major reason all of these events came to fruition was the involvement of alumni members, who suggested they would have benefited from such events while they were at CSUDH and wanted to help those following similar career paths. They could have chosen any number of ways to volunteer their time and stay connected to their alma mater, but this is how they decided to do so. Such a commitment serves as testimony to how well regarded this organization is within the major and on campus.

“It’s my way of giving back to the community,” says Murry. “I feel responsible to help [current students] succeed, and if I can do that by helping this organization and bringing career events to campus, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Certainly, there’s a level of pride that goes along with an award like this. After all, being singled out from hundreds of other organizations across the country is not something that happens every day, and as Garey Thompson (B.A., Behavioral Science, 2000; M.P.A., 2005), the organization’s 2004-05 president, suggests, it also makes all of their efforts worthwhile. “It was a lot of hard work for all of us – we’re not only maintaining an A average in grad level work. We’re also out there trying to offer these options and events to fellow students. So to be recognized like this, it makes me proud, and it shows all our hard work paid off.”

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University Communications & Public Affairs
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Last updated November 14, 3:23 p.m.,
by Joanie Harmon