UNC MPA celebrates Spring 2024 Commencement

The UNC School of Government’s Master of Public Administration Class of 2024 gathered with faculty, family, friends, and staff on May 11 to celebrate their graduation from the program.  The ceremony, held at the Frank Porter Graham Student Union, honored 52 on-campus and online graduates—who completed the program in Summer 2023, Fall 2023, and Spring 2024, respectively.

UNC MPA Director Willow S. Jacobson and School of Government Dean Aimee N. Wall welcomed and congratulated graduates for their achievements. 

Carl W. Stenberg, James E. Holshouser Jr. Distinguished Professor of Public Administration and Government, presented the annual Wright Research Paper Award, honoring the legacy of its namesake—former faculty member and public administration visionary Deil S. Wright.  

Stenberg presented the 2024 honor to Jonathan Douglas Hill for his paper on Evaluating the Organizational Location of Keep America Beautiful Affiliates.

In his address, commencement speaker Dean Emeritus Michael R. Smith remarked upon the challenges that the future public service leaders of UNC MPA will face in their roles— challenges in the public sphere that are increasingly multifaceted and complex on multiple organizational and sectoral levels—and necessary to aim to solve.

“For complicated decisions, you are never going to have enough information because— wait for it—you cannot predict the future,” he advised the graduates before him. “You have to find ways to be comfortable and get other people comfortable with recommendations and decisions based on the information you have at the time.”

“We need you to take bold action as public service leaders. There are lots of headwinds today that make it harder than ever to take bold action, but we need public service leaders who will push through those headwinds.”

Before the hooding and pinning ceremony of the graduates, Director Jacobson wished her former students and future public service leaders well in their careers—and urged them to harness the values they learned in the program as they effect positive change.

“As you take on leadership positions, it will take courage to face challenges, uncertainty, and hard choices,” she said. “At those moments, I hope you will draw on your public service values and your ethics as you approach them and know that you can do remarkable things. Your commitment and courage will continue to have a lasting impact on the world around you and the issues you care about.”

The School of Government and UNC MPA program extend their congratulations and warm wishes to all graduates of the Class of 2024.