Mossberger steps down as director to focus on teaching and research

Karen Mossberger plans to write a couple of books and resume research projects that had been put on hold while she served as director of the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University. She stepped down from her leadership position in June after four years leading the top-ranked program. She remains a professor in the school.

“I’m looking forward to contributing to the school in new ways, through more research activity and teaching,” says Mossberger. “I want to collaborate with colleagues and actively participate in building our scholarship in areas that I am passionate about, including information technology and local governance.”

During her four years at the helm, the School of Public Affairs experienced significant growth and success.  

The school added new degree programs including a Bachelor of Science in Public Service and Public Policy, an online Bachelor of Arts in Urban and Metropolitan Studies, and a 4+1 accelerated undergraduate degree and graduate degree. The school is collaborating with the McCain Institute for International Leadership to offer an online Executive Master of Public Administration degree.The 19-month program is tailored for mid-career public managers with online classes and in-person sessions in Washington, D.C. and Phoenix. Classes begin in January.

The number of students has more than doubled from 400 in 2013 to more than 900 enrolled for the fall 2017 semester. Online students represent roughly one-third.

The quality of students is what impresses Mossberger most.

“Our growth has been through the attraction of a diverse student body, many of whom are first generation students, says Mossberger. “These include undergrads who become Truman scholars and get internships in the White House and Ph.D students who win national awards for their research.”

The ASU School of Public Affairs has long been a well-ranked and well-respected school. The addition of new faculty and research centers strengthened its leadership in research and scholarship. Since 2013, the school added ten new tenure-track faculty and six full and part-time fixed-term faculty. Many are considered some of the best in their respective fields, including Barry Bozeman, Stuart Bretschneider, Eric Welch, Mary Feeney and David Swindell.


Karen Mossberger and Dean Jonathan Koppell

Karen Mossberger is given an Arcosanti bell by College of Public Service and Community Solutions dean Jonathan Koppell at a April 2017 reception.


“There is no doubt that the School of Public Affairs benefitted tremendously from Karen’s leadership,” says Jonathan Koppell, dean of the College of Public Service and Community Solutions. “Whether you measure by student enrollment, the quality of faculty or the amount of grant-funded research, she has taken the school to another level."

The school is now ranked no. 5 in the U.S. in research in public affairs, and no. 13 in the world according to ShanghaiRankings, an independent global higher education research firm. In 2016, the school moved up in the U.S. News & World Report Rankings for graduate programs in public affairs. It had been no. 16, but the ASU School of Public Affairs is now ranked no. 13 out of 272 schools, ahead of programs at universities such as Georgetown and Columbia. ASU was one of only three schools in the top 25 that have risen consistently in the last three rankings.

“Those rankings are a result of the productivity and excellence of our faculty and centers,” says Mossberger. “I’m proud that over the past four years, our faculty has published well-received research and won 12 national and international awards.”