Tia Sheree Gaynor
Professor Tia Gaynor primarily teaches public administration courses in the School of Management’s MPA graduate program. She also occasionally teaches a First Year Seminar and, through this, refers to herself as “fortunate enough” to also develop relationships with Marist undergraduates. Even outside of her classroom, Professor Gaynor is welcoming to all types of students interested in her subject and personal expertise.
What kinds of students would benefit from studying public administration?
Students who are interested in working with nonprofit organizations or who are interested in working in any public sector positions (so law enforcement, local, state and federal government, private foundations). I have had students who work for the Red Cross and Goodwill Industries. There are many students who work in health care and who are interested in health care administration. So we have a lot of law enforcement students and a lot who work in nonprofits throughout the country. Essentially, students who are not interested in working for a private corporation may be interested in pursuing a master's degree in public administration
How do you think the material is relevant and valuable in today’s society?
Given all of the things that happen in our society over time, and all of the impacts that policy and laws have on our lives, it is really important to not only understand what goes on but to be involved in it and recognize that we have a role to play in the way our world is shaped. When you think about what is going on in the United States now - all of these changes and all of these things are happening - everything is related to public administration. From clean water to immigration to marriage equality, all of these issues relate to Americans and they relate to public administration. In one way or another, it connects to just about everything that goes on in the world.
What is your background in the field?
I have a bachelor's degree in psychology, a master’s in public administration and I had a career as a fundraiser before pursuing my Ph.D. and coming to Marist. I worked for a small nonprofit law firm in Newark, New Jersey and that organization advocated for equity in public schools and services that public schools provide for urban and suburban areas. Essentially, the organization was advocating for urban and suburban schools in New Jersey so that [they all] had access to the same things. Then I started fundraising for universities. I fundraised for Rutgers and Howard University in Washington, D.C.
What made you want to teach after working in development and fundraising?
That’s a good question. I think the process of getting my Ph.D. showed me that fundraising wasn’t what I was passionate about and I found that I was passionate about social justice issues. I realized that there were so many things that I could do, as a college professor, around the issues of social justice. I could incorporate it into what I teach, so I have a direct connection with students in talking about issues of social justice. I really felt like, as a college professor, I could have a wider impact around the issues that I am passionate about.
What experiences in your Ph.D. have had the most impact on you?
I think being exposed to a vast array of researchers and theories. Through that process, I realized that there was so much more that I could do. It helped me to identify the things that I was passionate about. I was reading about social equality and seeing the connections to the theories that I was reading and what was happening in the real world.
What, if nothing else, do you hope students take away from your class?
I think, more than anything, I hope that I get my students to think critically about the way that they see the world.
What would you say is unique about your class?
In my courses, I try to offer my students varying perspectives and I try to do that in a number of different ways. One of the ways is to pull in readings that wouldn’t necessarily be considered traditional public administration but are very applicable to the concept and the topics that we teach. (...) As much as I can, I try to connect the theories and the concepts that we read to current events and things that are going on that students can see. I try to make the concepts and the theories that I teach in the classroom more tangible to students so that they can see where it actually applies in the real world.
Watch a recent YouTube video featuring Marist MPA Assistant Professor Tia Gaynor as she describes the curriculum and focus of the public administration graduate program.
Written by Sarah Gabrielli '18
Profile Tags:Profile Type: Faculty
Major: MPA - Public Administration
Academic School: Management