July 2017 Faculty Spotlight
July Faculty Spotlight with Adjunct Professor and Faculty Director of the Executive MPA, Nicole A. Gordon
Wide-ranging experience, public engagement, and news-worthy insights drive the ethos of the Marxe School for many faculty members. In this month’s spotlight, we speak to Nicole A. Gordon about her trip to Fox News to discuss the Trump-Russia investigation, her
remarkable students in the Executive MPA program, and more.
What do you think is most exciting or enriching about the Marxe School Executive MPA program?
The students are remarkable. They compose a genuinely diverse group in every meaning of the word; they are entirely committed to the program and to help each other succeed; and they work incredibly hard on their classes even though they work full time and have family obligations. They prepare extremely well for class and participate without being? pressed. T?heir work lives inform their studies, as their studies inform their work lives. They are the most engaged students I have encountered in my professional life. When their energy is concentrated in the Executive MPA’s cohort model, the results are astounding. As they study together, work together, and even find the time to socialize, they become a cohesive group that is internally supportive and remains so, long after they leave the Marxe School. It is truly inspiring to observe the dynamics in the Executive MPA program.
You have had so many consultancies and teaching positions at schools in New York City – not to mention varied departments and offices. What sets the Marxe School apart from other teaching institutions you’ve lent your expertise to?
As I mentioned earlier, the students stand out; in addition, the Marxe School’s commitment to the marriage between academic and practical experience is key to the success of the program. The Marxe School, more than any other school I am aware of, encourages the involvement of practitioners in the coursework for the Executive Master’s degree. Together with the cohort system, this creates a powerful environment and a powerful outcome for the students.
What are you teaching in the fall of 2017?
I will be teaching “Ethics and Public Decision-Making” to the Executive MPA class. I primarily use case studies, events that are current or that I have had direct experience with, or that guest speakers, whom I know and can call upon to co-teach a class, have had personal experience with. We discuss a range of topics, from the corruption of Tammany Hall (among other readings is the wonderful “Plunkitt of Tammany Hall”) to secrecy in government. The latter topic includes questions of weighing the government’s need to maintain certain kinds of secrets against the public’s “right to know.” We discuss, for example,Snowden, the atomic bomb, and the Cuban Missile crisis, and examine legal issues including public meetings and freedom of information laws and the justifications for and consequences of civil disobedience.
The other course I will teaching this fall is the Capstone for the MPA program. This is the students’ culminating exercise for the degree that requires in-depth research, study, analysis, and critical thinking to produce a document that addresses a pressing policy issue. Students choose for themselves what public policy challenge they want to take on. They rely on everything they have studied in the program in order to prepare this final project.
How do you leverage your experience at the crossroads of law and public policy to teach?
I believe that the sweet spot where evidence, experience, and practicality meet with policy goals that can actually be implemented is the most rewarding place to be as a public manager. That is the place I hope the students can focus on and aspire to with the help of having worked with both academics and practitioners in the course of their study. Both topics I will be teaching this fall fit squarely within this central interest of mine.
You appeared on Fox News in May to discuss the Trump Administration-Russia investigation and its then, newly-appointed Special Prosecutor. Can you guess how this investigation might unfold?
There are many ways in which the investigation might unfold, and prediction is hardly possible, given the number of players and the nature of the publicly available information.There are many apparent meetings and contacts that have caused concern, and the activities, discussions, and flow of money require extensive investigation.Given the stakes, I hope that those who are in charge of investigating these matters are thorough and scrupulously nonpartisan in their work.