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Alumni Spotlight: Cullen Merritt, 2014 PhD Graduate

Monday, May 18, 2015

Cullen C. Merritt earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Texas A&M University in 2009 and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Kansas in 2012.  In May 2014, he received his Ph.D. from KU’s School of Public Affairs and Administration, specializing in public management and organizational theory.  During his time in the doctoral program, he taught multiple undergraduate courses, served as vice president of the public administration doctoral student association, and was an undergraduate committee member.  In addition, he served as the research assistant for the Public Management Research Association Secretariat.

His dissertation, “Specifying and Testing a Multi-Dimensional Model of Publicness: An Analysis of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities”, explores the primary organizational and environmental factors associated with “publicness”.  By identifying these factors, Dr. Merritt hopes to enhance organizational awareness of the internal and external features most salient to their achievement of public outcomes—those beneficial to society at large.

Dr. Merritt, a 2014 recipient of the American Political Science Association’s Paul A. Volcker Award, is currently an assistant professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).  In this position, he is expanding upon his research on publicness and teaching courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels.    

Dr. Merritt looks back fondly at his time as a doctoral student at the School. “In addition to the collegial training and mentorship the Ph.D. program offers, I developed strong professional relationships with the faculty, fellow doctoral students, and undergraduates in my classes.  Rosemary O’Leary, my advisor, remains instrumental in my professional development and served as an invaluable mentor during my first year as a faculty member,” he says.  “If one aspires to become a scholar well-versed in the theoretical and practical underpinnings of public administration, KU’s School of Public Affairs and Administration is the place to be.”


Ruth DeWitt, Communications Manager
KU School of Public Affairs and Administration
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Ranked in the top 10 master of public affairs programs in the nation
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#1 in the nation for city management and urban policy

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#5 in the nation for public management

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Three faculty have won W.T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence
Rosemary O’Leary is KU’s Edwin O. Stene Distinguished Professor of Public Administration
Four MPA graduates have been elected president of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA)
Founder of the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (JPART)
Four faculty are National Academy of Public Administration Fellows
Bob Kipp, vice president of Hallmark Cards, was a 2012 recipient of the CLAS Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award
Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. secretary of health and human services, was a 2009 recipient of the CLAS Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award
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