Dr. Malcolm Oliver, Chair of the New M.P.A. Program, Brings Fresh Perspective, International Focus

Dr. Malcolm Oliver began work at his position as Chair of the newly created Master of Public Administration program at The College of New Rochelle in the fall of 2012. His office is sparse; the only decoration is an image of President John F. Kennedy and a quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

“This is a brand new program,” Dr. Oliver said, “we want to become a community resource, not only a center for education, and we want to become more international. We live in a globalized environment, and the challenges of the 21st century can’t be solved in our own small world.”
Dr. Oliver would know. He was a non-traditional student and enrolled in Mt. San Antonio College before being accepted into the Honors Program at the University of California Riverside. He lived in Capetown, South Africa, for one year and cultivated an academic interest in local government management. He continued this pursuit and received an M.P.A. from Cal Poly Pomona and then a Ph.D. in Public and Urban Administration from University of Texas Arlington.
“In the 1960s it was incredible cool to want to help,” he said. “In the 1980s, government was viewed as a problem. Now, we have so many challenges — war, homelessness, poverty, education, environment — and as a society we need to find creative ways to adapt to the changing external environment and keep our standard of living as high as it’s been. The public sector can’t force it; the public has to want it.”
“Just like me, these students all started with the desire to be responsive to the needs of society, the desire to make a difference in the world or their communities. Our first cohort of students bring a lot of energy; they work in public and non-profit agencies, and school districts.  We are already recruiting the second cohort, and reaching out to local non-profit agencies to diversify the type of students we have. The more diversity, the better learning environment is created.”
While Dr. Oliver’s academic experience has been in big public universities, he’s enjoyed the opportunity to work in a smaller environment at CNR. He remarked that he was happily surprised that, new to campus, he knew all of the M.P.A. students and CNR administrators by name.
“New York City is a big place, but CNR is a nice island in a busy place, where things slow down for you to think and consider issues. I know all of my students by their first name and I know all of the administrators. It’s a personal environment. My teaching philosophy is an exchange, and in this environment we can develop a symbiotic relationship which is very valuable to both professor and student.”