Mentoring, Unsplash, stock photo, Amy Hirschi

Former city executives endow position for visiting professional to share urban management experience

By

Mark J. Scarp

Public administration students learning urban management at Arizona State University will be able to tap into the expertise of a seasoned professional whose education-related activities will be funded by a new endowment.

The endowment from former Chandler City Manager Lloyd Harrell and his wife, Nancy, will fund the Harrell/Hutchinson Visiting Urban Management Professional program, the ASU Foundation for A New American University announced.

Both Harrell and former Mesa City Manager Mike Hutchinson were heavily involved with the design and establishment of ASU’s Marvin Andrews Fellowship in Urban Management. Hutchinson played, and continues to play, the dominant role in the fundraising effort for the fellowship, Harrell said, which is why the visiting professional position is named for both men.

Each year, an urban management professional will be selected speak to public administration classes, meet with students in the ASU School of Public Affairs and speak to the local chapter of the International City/County Management Association and with local government practitioners from Arizona cities, towns and counties. In addition, the professional will meet with students in the two-year Marvin Andrews Fellowship in Urban Management, which is named for a former Phoenix city manager. The grant will be administered by the Watts College for Public Service and Community Solutions.

Cynthia Seelhammer, a Watts College professor of practice and the fellowship’s coordinator, will head an informal search committee of past fellows, known colloquially as “Marvins,” that will recruit and select the first visiting professional, according to the terms of the grant.

Seelhammer, a former city, town and county manager, said criteria for the committee’s process should be in place by early 2022. The first professional should be selected by the end of next year and begin the role in January 2023, she said. The professional will make at least one in-person visit to the School of Public Affairs during the year, and be available for Zoom lectures, speeches, discussions and consultations, Seelhammer said.

The endowment is intended to benefit students learning public administration in their classrooms as well as local practitioners in the profession, Seelhammer said.

Harrell’s career in urban management spanned 30 years, having led city staffs in Denton, Texas, and the Missouri cities of Liberty and Nevada before coming to Chandler, Arizona, where he served as city manager for six years before retiring. Harrell also was a School of Public Affairs faculty associate for more than a decade.

Hutchinson’s 28-year career with the city of Mesa culminated in 2000 when he began a five-year period as its city manager. Today he is executive vice president of the East Valley Partnership.

Harrell said the endowment should help make an exceptional fellowship even more meaningful for the participating students.

“There are many outstanding urban managers who are either retired or nearing retirement who have a lot to offer to the students, as far as not only sharing with them some of their experiences and insights they developed in their careers, but also mentoring these young people,” Harrell said. “I think Cynthia and I both envision the person selected will be meeting individually with each of the Marvins and speaking to public administration classes throughout the year as another resource for students as they talk about various career options.”

Harrell said the professional’s presence will also enhance the reputation of the Marvin Andrews Fellowship, attracting “really outstanding students and be another part of an excellent experience.”

Hutchinson said throughout the more than a decade since the fellowship’s inception, he, Harrell and other retired managers continued to look for ways to augment what he called an already extraordinary experience for the students involved. The visiting professional is the latest enhancement, he said.

“This is just one more thing we can offer the students to bolster their experience,” Hutchinson said.