Center for Public Administration hires new director

Heather Bing

Most new faces to Kent State come in the fall with a rush of freshmen or new faculty members, but one individual will make his debut beginning May 15.

John Hoornbeek was recently hired as the new director for the Center for Public Administration and Public Policy. The search, which lasted 15 months, was conducted by the political science faculty, the center’s staff and John Logue, political science department chair.

Logue said the center’s work has created a strong and successful mission, but the department would like to see that mission evolve.

“The center has historically done a great job of providing training to municipal governments and elected employees and officials,” Logue said. “It provides technical assistance to small units in hiring and strategic planning. The center facilitates those hiring processes.”

He said the faculty would like to see more involvement in public policy research and assessment, without losing the successful foundation the center has in its training work. It was difficult finding someone who held both ideals, which is why the search failed before, Logue said.

“What we were looking for was someone focused both on what the center has been doing historically, as well as the new mission,” Logue said. “John is just a wonderful candidate from that perspective, and that’s why we hired him.”

Hoornbeek’s hands-on experience working with public policy and his understanding of the kinds of people the center works with also played a part in his selection.

“He understands the work, and he wants to do it,” Logue said. “He has a very accomplished research record, and it makes him very competitive for tenure track positions.”

Logue said he wants to see Hoornbeek double the size of the center over the next five years, and build new programs on the strengths of the facility and its staff.

Hoornbeek said he submitted an application for a different position at Kent State, but Logue thought he would be better suited to directing the center. He asked Hoornbeek to consider the position because it matched his interests so well.

Hoornbeek said he would like to follow the work of interim director Melinda Holmes by concentrating on the training and educational work of the center, but also help to build the center’s research capacity.

“There are a combination of things the center is interested in, such as research, education and service,” Hoornbeek said. “Various pieces of my background will help me meet those objectives.”

The center has grown in its service area over the past 25 years, and Hoornbeek said he hopes to build on the center’s valuable work while working toward the new objectives focused on research.

Holmes sat in on interviews conducted by the faculty committee during the selection process.

Holmes said it was difficult to find someone qualified for the position. There has been an impact on the center because it hasn’t had a director for so long, but at the same time it’s been impressive that such a small staff has accomplished so many things, she said.

One of the things she said she would like to see under Hoornbeek’s leadership is increased communication between the center and the faculty in the political science department.

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Heather Bing at [email protected]