Public Service Spotlight - July/August 2010


Terence Boyle, MPA 1978

Seasoned Public Transportation Professional



We asked alumni to respond to Dean Schall’s Op-Ed published last month in the NY Daily News calling for state-financed public service scholarships.  Here’s what Terence Boyle (MPA ’78) had to say:

When I graduated from Rutgers College in 1974 with a BA in Political Science I did not know where I was headed. I sought out the Business Administrator for the City of New Brunswick to seek both employment opportunities and advice about what I might do. He saw that I was a native of Jersey City and knew that the former Mayor and a handful of his associates were recently sent to Federal prison and that Jersey City had a public health doctor as a reform Mayor. I next reached out to Jersey City and found that the new administration was creating a Municipal Intern Program. After weeding out no-show employees and evaluating the talent pool of the remaining employees, the new administration knew that they needed to develop a core of middle level managers who could continue to manage the City's affairs for the years to come.

Recent college graduates were being hired and sent to work in various City Departments for three months at a time, learning how each worked. I applied for an intern position and was accepted. The City supplemented our work experience with Civil Service training courses. Although the other interns did rotate through various City departments, I had started working in what was a "super agency" that consolidated all the social service programs under one roof. Just circulating in this one large agency gave me substantial responsibility at a very early stage in my career. The program was a huge success as far as I was concerned, and I soon decided to apply to NYU's Graduate School of Public Administration [Wagner’s former namesake] in order to enhance my abilities to manage public programs. I earned my MPA in February, 1978.

Although the City of Jersey City did not offer scholarships, they were very supportive of my efforts to secure an MPA degree. The Mayor's goal was similar to Dean Schall's, the development of a pool of talent ready to step in and manage the government. Despite our best efforts, Mayor Jordan's run for the office of Governor failed, as did the candidacy of my boss, backed by Mayor Jordan, to replace Jordan as the Mayor.

My job was secure, as I had been appointed to a civil service position, one that could not be eliminated without losing a substantial federal grant. I sat around in a large office with little to do. Once I obtained my MPA, I was qualified to take a position with the NJ DOT, and my career in public transportation was off and running.

I fully support the concept of public scholarships, with an agreement to work for the public agency for a predetermined number of years. I would add to that obligation an opportunity for the students to circulate through various Departments, during their time as students. The volunteer work could provide students with a better idea of where they would be most interested in working, and could help the students in the choice of courses that they might take. The University needs to be able to respond and offer courses in core areas of government, especially in local and state government administration.

Boyle has since had a long career in transportation. He served at the NJ DOT for 14 years and rose to assistant vice president. He received a JD in 1984 from Seton Hall and established a practice in railroad and transportation construction and acquisitions. He has also consulted with Booz Allen Hamilton.