The heart of NYU Wagner's programs is our faculty. An amalgam of full-time, clinical/research/visiting, and adjunct professors, they are outstanding teachers, expert researchers and committed practitioners.
A research investigation by NYU Wagner Assistant Professor of Global Health Policy Karen Grépin on the impact of international HIV-focused donor funding on health service delivery will appear in a special issue of the journal Health Affairs. The July thematic issue is devoted to analysis of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a nine-year-old program of bilateral U.S. assistance to support countries in their battle against HIV/AIDS (and one that has been described as the largest program of U.S. aid since the Marshall Plan). The Health Affairs volume and its dissemination are funded, in part, by the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator; Merck & Co, Inc.; BD; and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Professor Grépin’s paper is titled “HIV Donor Funding Has Both Boosted And Curbed The Delivery Of Different Non-HIV Health Services In Sub-Saharan Africa." She will join contributors, thought leaders, and policy makers at a morning briefing in Washington, D.C., on July 10 to mark the issue’s release.
The world-class Beacon Theatre, the breakthrough stage for rock ‘n’ roll, cast its bright lights May 17 on the top-ranked NYU Wagner as 357 graduating students – the Class of 2012 – were heralded for earning their Master in Public Administration (MPA) or Master in
Urban Planning (MUP).
As the ceremony began, the capacity crowd of soon-to-be graduates and their families and friends received words of welcome in 27 different languages from Class of '12 emissaries Emma Taya Darch, Hanying Peng and Luis Guillermo Schloeter Garcia – symbolizing Wagner’s strong national and global reach as well as its home in one of the most exciting and diverse cities of the world.
Wagner’s Dean, Ellen Schall, urged the graduating class to deeply think and explore their feelings as they transition from graduate work to an exciting new chapter in their lives as dedicated public-service professionals. While this interim phase may include trepidations, it offers a moment when innovation is perhaps most possible, she said.
“I have three very important words,” Diane Yu, chief of staff for NYU, told the audience enthusiastically when she next spoke to the graduates: “You made it!”
And the magestic music hall erupted in cheers.
Maggie Raife (MPA ’12) introduced the eagerly anticipated keynote speaker, Melody C. Barnes, the former Assistant to the President of the United States and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.
Barnes invoked the inspirational example of Nanny Helen Boroughs, the founder of a school for African American women and girls in Washington, D.C. in the early 1900's. The school motto, she noted emphatically, was “We Specialize In The Wholly Impossible.”
“The question for you is not whether, but how, can I be of service – how can I lead,” Barnes said, noting that her mentors included the late Senator Ted Kennedy, with whom she worked, as well as a close friend who dedicated herself to schools in her community
of High Point, N.C., and was a "fiercely determined" catalyst for civic engagement and progress.
“If you have a head, and a heart, for public service, it is deeply, deeply rewarding,” said Barnes, who will soon be joining Wagner as a Senior Fellow.
In addition to the presentation of the Masters as well as PhD recipients, the Convocation featured several honors for outstanding student achievement:
* The Martin Dworkis Memorial Award (for academic achievement, participation in Wagner activities and public service) was given to: Sarah Lieber Church, Susan L. Hayes, and Carlyn Maksymuk.
* The Robert F. Wagner Award for Public Service (for leadership capacity and exceptional contribution to public service) was award to Christopher Faris and Olukemi Ilesanmi.
* The Hammad Fund International Leadership Award (for contribution to the global Wagner experience, academic success, and exceptional capacity for international leadership) was given to Rebecca Bavinger.
* The Sterling D. Spero Prize (for exceptional written work) was awarded to Barbara Kiviat and Jacob Leos-Urbel.
* The Robert Berne Award for Leadership (for significant contribution to the Wagner community) was given to Zakiya Devine, Aaron Meyerson and Zawadi Rucks-Ahidiana.
* The Jo Ivey Boufford Award (for innovative solutions to public service challenges) was awarded to Sabelo Narasimhan.
* The Howard Newman Award (for exemplary work by a Capstone team) was given to Nora Anderson, Nadia Cureton, Ashley Jenson and Asher Pacht.
All of the graduates stood in ovation for Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of Public Policy Rogan Kersh, who was chosen as “Professor of the Year” at Wagner.
At the same time, Adjunct Associate Professor of Public Administration Shankar Prasad was named “Distinguished Adjunct of the Year.”
Will Carlin, adjunct assistant professor of project management and communication, won special recognition as “Coach of the Year.”
Dean Schall, closing the ceremony, told the graduates, “You are now official Wagner alumni – signed on to the task of ‘achieving the wholly impossible.’ ”
Congratulations to all!
Daniel L. Smith, assistant professor of public budgeting and financial management at NYU Wagner, has been named the 2012 recipient of the University’s Faculty Fellow-in-Residence Of the Year Award.
“It’s a real honor to win this award, especially in my first year as an FFiR,” he said.
We couldn't agree more.
The position of Faculty Fellow-In-Residence is part of a continuing University effort to create intimate "learning communities" for students within the residence halls, and integrate their academic experiences with their residential lives. A key aspect of this effort is the creation of a meaningful and active faculty presence in the residence halls.
Faculty Fellows work closely with one another and with residence hall staff to set an intellectual tone, and to design and implement a wide range of programmatic and other opportunities for students to interact with faculty members and with one another. By bringing cultural and intellectual experiences more directly into student life in a lively and often informal fashion, the program offers students the benefits of “small college” life within the larger contexts of both the University and the City of New York.
Professor Smith was nominated by two Res Life staff in his building (Greenwich Hotel): the Residence Hall director and one of the Resident Assistants. They noted in their nominating comments that Smith has taken the time to foster individual relationships with all of the RA’s and many of the residents.
The award selection was made by student members of the NYU (“Torch”) Chapter of the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH).
When organizations or businesses stumble, the search for an explanation often leads back to the quality of the evidence-gathering process. It is that process, known as Evidence-based Management (EBM), that fascinates Anthony R. Kovner, who has spent more than a decade trying to get managers to employ it when they seek ways to improve their organization’s performance and results.
Professor Kovner teaches EBM to students at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, where he is a professor of public and health management and the director of the Executive MPA Program for Nurse Leaders. He is also the author of several books on healthcare management. Shortly before the publication of a chapter he recently wrote, entitled “Adventures in the Evidence-based Management Trade,” for the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Evidence-Based Management (Oxford University Press), he sat down with NYU Research Digest (Spring 2012) to discuss Evidence-based Management.
What’s the theory behind EBM?
Evidence-based Management comes out of medicine—the idea that if you make a medical intervention, it should have a predictable and positive outcome. We said, “Why can’t we apply this in management?” Well, the truth is, it’s not a simple matter. We know a lot less about management than medicine, for which there’s a huge medical research establishment, the randomized clinical trial, and an established process for scientific review.
What professional sector does EBM most lend itself to?
To every sector. So for example, when two large health organizations decide to merge, we say, “Wouldn’t it make sense to look at the best available evidence before making a decision to merge?” Instead, a very common managerial response is: “We want to merge—let’s find the evidence that justifies it.” So these managers need to do more than just type “hospital merger” in Google? Keep in mind that all managers make decisions based on evidence. The point is, what is the quality of the evidence? It can be pretty shabby.
What’s wrong with the process as it works now?
When, for instance, two large institutions decide to merge, to what extent do they ask in advance, “What do we know about successful and unsuccessful mergers?” Generally speaking, what they do is ask the consultants, and the consultants say, “This would work in Akron.” But of course that doesn’t mean that it would work in Brooklyn. Are the merging institutions’ two geographies compatible? What about their respective cultures? It’s not that you get to a solution—these kinds of problems are too messy, too wicked, and the causation is not as clear as in randomized clinical trials. But it informs your thinking so you can see and avoid the worst consequences of what might happen.
How should the evidence gathering begin?
Three basic steps: search and locate the best available evidence, learn from best practices, and try doing your own management research. If you are studying why nurses turn over so much in your hospital, it’s important for you to understand the differences between the 12-hour day shift and the 12-hour night shift. The most important step, though, is to ask the right question, and translate your management challenge into an answerable one.
If EBM is so effective, why don’t more organizations engage in it?
That’s the $64,000 question, and it’s not an easy question to deal with. What it really is about is power and hierarchy and organizations. Let’s say an employee comes up with a better way of doing something and tells the boss about it. You’d expect the boss to say it’s a great idea, let’s do it. But in practice the boss says, “You’re insulting the way I’m managing this place,” or “If you thought of it, then how good can it be, if I didn’t think of it,” or “Go ahead and present your ideas to the higher-ups, and if they like it I’ll take credit for it, and, if they don’t we’ll blame you. “
That sounds almost insurmountable.
The trick of it is to make the politics work for you. To get it implemented, you have to get the managers to see that it’s in their political interest to practice evidence-based management. And I believe it is.”
The Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, a project of the New York University School of Law and NYU Wagner, has just released the 10th annual edition of its widely read State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods report.
Professors Been and Ellen are the directors of the Furman Center, which, in February, garnered a nationally prestigious MacArthur Award For Creative and Effective Institutions.
The 10th annual edition of the State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods, features 2011 data on housing, demographics, and quality of life indicators for each borough and for the city’s 59 community districts. It also finds that while the city remains highly segregated by race, more of its neighborhoods are racially integrated today than 20 years ago. In addition, this year’s report analyzes mortgage finance trends in New York City, and finds that the volume of lending is increasing, the number of foreclosure notices issued has dropped from previous years, and the number of properties entering REO has decreased.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of women die during childbirth as a result of preventable conditions, including the fact that many couldn’t afford proper care. Starting later this fall, an 18-month research initiative in Kenya will deliver, via mobile phones, a set of interventions designed in part to help pregnant women set aside enough savings to cover the cost of skilled care and delivery assistance.
The research will be conducted by James Habyarimana and Billy Jack, both of Georgetown University, Tavneet Suri of MIT, and Karen Grépin, an assistant professor of global health policy at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, in collaboration with Changamka, Ltd., a Kenya micro-savings company. Financial support for the project comes from the Microsavings and Payments Innovation Initiative at Yale University, Innovations for Poverty Action, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Professor Grépin, whose research work focuses on the economics and politics of health service delivery in developing countries, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa, spoke with NYU Research Digest as she prepared to launch the project, and, as it happens, as she anticipated her own delivery too, in May. (A shorter version of this interview appeared in the Spring 2012 Digest.)
What’s driving the project? Pregnant women in many developing countries, including Kenya, say that financial barriers keep them from seeking proper maternal health services, including skilled assistance at delivery. What are the barriers to increased savings needed to cover the costs associated with delivery? That is the primary question we will attempt to answer.
Why is it important to know how and why pregnant women in Kenya save money? It’s important that we become better able to understand all the barriers that pregnant women face to health care – informational, financial, and others. If we do, we might be able to develop savings vehicles that would help promote the capacity of women to accrue enough money to cover the cost of their baby’s delivery, both in Kenya and other settings as well. Since we will also be able to learn what care these women seek for their deliveries, we hope that this study will also contribute to our understanding of health-seeking behavior.
Your project involves mobile phones. What is their significance here? One of the big innovations in this project is that we plan to deliver all of the interventions that we are testing (financial incentives and informational incentives) via mobile phones. Mobile phones have become widely available in many developing countries. But people don’t use them just for communication; they are also used as credit cards and bank accounts, especially in Kenya. If we find that our interventions are successful, the interventions can be scaled up rapidly and inexpensively due to the availability of this technological platform.
What unique challenges do you anticipate? Our primary research site will be in densely populated urban slums in Kenya. Since we need to track and monitor women for approximately a year, this can be challenging in these communities. Fortunately, we do have their cell phone numbers, which does make continued tracking a great deal easier!
How does this research relate to other work that has been done in this vein? This work is part of a growing area of research on the potential of m-health technologies to improve health service delivery in developing countries. It also adds to the growing literature in the international health economics literature on savings and incentives for seeking care. It is one of the few m-health programs under way that will be evaluated in a rigorous randomized control trial setting.
Why do you consider the project of great importance, and to whom? The work is critically important. Although great efforts have been exerted over the past few decades to improve access to maternal health services in most developing countries, millions of women still do not seek proper care at delivery, and as a result hundreds of thousands die every year during childbirth from conditions that could be prevented if they were access the proper care. Given that financial barriers are seen as key to this challenge, we hope that this work will help develop our understanding in this area.