MU's Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs to become autonomous

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 | 8:14 p.m. CDT; updated 3:35 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 4, 2012

COLUMBIA — The Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs will reorganize into a college on Thursday.

Since the public affairs school was founded in 2000, it has been a part of the MU Graduate School. George Justice, dean of the graduate school, said the reorganization is part of the public affairs school's original vision, adding that its size, prominence and merits are worthy of independence.

The public affairs school has 30 teachers, 175 students in its master's program and 12 students pursuing doctoral degrees. Last year, the school accomplished 61 projects with $4 million of funding coming from outside the university, said Barton Wechsler, the school's director.

Justice said the reorganization will be beneficial both internally and externally. Wechsler agreed, saying that the reorganization will create opportunities for collaboration and allow students and faculty to do more research and policy work that will help the state. 

"We will deepen and  strengthen the areas where we're already involved, and we are likely to offer more cross-discipline courses with other faculties and other departments," Wechsler said. 

Guy Adams, a professor in the school of pubic affairs, said he sees the long-term benefits of the reorganization. 

"Our students will benefit from graduating from a more-prestigious school, as this change enables a much higher rate of development in teaching, research and service moving forward," Adams said. 

Wechsler said the cost of reorganization is low, and will ultimately save money and time by reducing layers of reporting and approval to the Graduate School. The school anticipates having more than 200 master's students and between 25 and 30 doctoral students after the reorganization. 

The school is considering launching an undergraduate program and developing a strategic plan for the next two to five years.

Wechsler will be the dean of the school until his term ends Aug. 1, 2014. 

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