The University of Lake Oswego: Best Two Years of Your Life

Posted on February 12, 2014

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A Non-Traditional MPA

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ELGL heard a rumor about the City of Lake Oswego creating some sort of local government university and naturally this innovative idea is something that we had to learn more about.  It turns out that City Manager, Scott Lazenby, wanted to find a way to provide some additional training and education to Lake Oswego employees without them needing to enroll in a graduate program.  So they invented the MPAL or Master of Public Administration Lite.  The goal is to provide all the aspects of a good MPA program but without the stressful assignments and tests.  Below is the description of the program.

imagesA group of us have founded the Lake Oswego University, a completely unaccredited and unorganized institution of higher education, in order to provide graduate-level education to Lake Oswego staff. The first degree offered by LOU will be a MPAL, or a Master of Public Administration (Lite). It will have all the ingredients of the best MPA programs in the country, except there will be NO tests, papers, or even grades (thus the “lite” label). And there are NO pre-requisites for admission: no prior education or experience requirements, no GRE scores, no admission essays on why you want to get the degree in order to create world peace. Just a commitment to do some reading and participate in class discussions (and even lead some of the discussions, for those who are willing).

Here’s how it works: The class will meet for one hour twice a month in a noon brown bag lunch setting (tentatively the second and third Thursdays of the month). The only homework is reading about three chapters of a book before class. Each month will feature a different topic. Subjects that will be covered include:

  • Motivationdownload
  • Leadership
  • Persuasion and negotiation
  • Quality control and customer service
  • Process improvement
  • Strategic planning
  • Project management
  • Budget management
  • Business writing and presentation skills
  • Effective supervisory practices
  • Resolving ethical dilemmas; servant leadership
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Conflict resolution and working with upset peopel
  • Collaboration, team building, and group processes
  • And more…

Participants will be provided with the primary course text (on leadership). Most of the other books will be widely availabe for purchase at low cost through the used book market, or free through the LO Library. Location is to be determined, subject to the number of people who sign up. The program will begin in January 2014.

images (1)The primary motivation for offering this program is to build management and leadership skills within the organization, and as a component of succession planning. But we also welcome participants who simply want an intellectual challenge. At the same time, it is completely voluntary, and no staff member should feel under any pressure or influence to participate. We recognize that many staff members won’t be able to attend due to work shift or other time constraints, and that’s OK.

If you would be willing to share your own education or training in any of the topics above, please indicate your interest in serving as an adjunct faculty member. You can call (0214) or e-mail me with any questions. Other core faculty members include, so far, David Donaldson, Megan Phelan, and Jordan Wheeler.
Scott Lazenby, Dean

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