Otha Burton, Jr., Ph.D.
Interim Executive Director, School of Policy and Planning
Interim Associate Dean of the College of Public Service
I extend greetings to the 2012-2013 academic year returning and incoming students of Urban and Regional Planning graduate programs, Public Policy and Administration graduate programs, and our Urban Studies undergraduate program in the School of Policy and Planning. For over the past three years, the leadership of Jackson State University has explored restructuring options for academic units, particularly those within the College of Public Service. Driving motivations behind this initiative were the adoptions of models for growth and “deep academic quality” that would enhance programs, research opportunities, more diversity in enrollment, and an overall expansion of the student population.
Jackson State University is designated as a Level One Research Intensive University. this very engaged vetting process has resulted in stronger and more competitive degree programs that will meet the demands of our 21st Century. Through all of the deliberations and options considered, the leadership of the University supported the Deans, Associate Deans, Chairs, and Program Directors, faculty and administrators to ensure that the integrity of established degree programs and especially accredited programs would not be placed in jeopardy. Today, I can ensure the students, faculty, and staff in the School of Policy and Planning that all programs, accredited and established, are maintained and are supported.
Effective July 1, 2012, the Provost and the Division of Academic Affairs implemented the restructuring of the College of Public Service. The School of Policy and Planning is headed by an Executive Director. I have been asked to serve in this capacity as the Interim Executive Director. I was formally the Associate Dean of the School and Chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning. The “department structure” in the School prior to July 1 which included the Public Policy and Administration Department (PPAD) and the Department of Urban and Regional Planning (DURP), has been eliminated. However, the five degree programs are in place and will generally operate as before, i.e., Ph.D. in Public Administration; MPPA; Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning; MA in Urban and Regional Planning; and BA in Urban Studies. There are no Department Chairs. The next line of administrative oversight below the executive Director is the Program Director. There are two Program Directors appointed by me: Dr. Mukesh Kumar for Urban and Regional Planning Programs, and Dr. Johnny Gilleylen for Public Policy and Administration Programs.
While the Executive Director is the administrative leader of the School, the Program Directors and center administrators clearly have definitive duties and responsibilities to help manage their respective programs and overall direction of the School. Within the School of Policy and Planning, which encompasses two nationally accredited master degree programs, the structure is as follows:
School-Interim Executive Director, Dr. Otha Burton, Jr.
1. Urban and Regional Planning Programs-Program Director, Dr. Mukesh Kumar
Ph.D. Program, Urban and Regional Planning
MA Program, Urban and Regional Planning (Planning Accreditation Board accredited-PAB)
BA Program, Urban Studies
2. Public Policy and Administration Programs-Program Director, Dr. Johnny Gilleylen, Sr.
Ph.D. Program, Public Administration
MPPA Program, Public Policy and Administration (National Association of Public Affairs and Administration Accredited-
3. Mississippi Center for Technology Transfer-Executive Director, Jill Brewer
4. Center for Urban Planning and Policy Assessment-(vacant)
Additionally, I have also been asked to serve as the Interim Associate Dean of the College of Public Service. Change is inevitable in the life cycles of individuals and organizations. However, the moving of the landscape within the School of Policy and Planning is viewed and received as a “Positive Change” that will be beneficial to the academy and the global urban community we serve. The new structure builds upon: faculty members that are extremely talented and productive, and who are nationally recognized; our students who are impressive and are only surpassed by the alumni who are impacting society every day; the service and research centers that continue to provide transportation modules necessary for good public service delivery in the State of Mississippi, and client driven contracts that address need; and the administrators and staff who are committed to a “student’s first” perspective that connects all of us here at Jackson State University: first and foremost, this is why we are here!