School alumnus Marc Farrar (pictured in the front row middle in 1993) has donated close to $5,000 to support the MPA program through the KUCIMAT MPA Support fund and the Stene Graduate Program fund.
“I support the program because I want to help ensure that other undergraduates — particularly those who need financial assistance to make KU a possibility, as I did — have the opportunity to attend the program and pursue both public and private sector opportunities which utilize the teachings of the program to excel in their careers,” Farrar said.
In the summer of 1990, Farrar was an intern in the Lewiston, Maine, City Administrator’s office. While not KUCIMATs themselves, the City Administrator, Bob Mulready, and Assistant Administrator, Mark Adams, talked up the strengths of KU’s MPA program and encouraged Farrar to attend if he ever got the chance.
Shortly after, he moved from Maine to Kansas to follow his mentors’ advice. World-class instructors and an internship with the City of Overland Park set the course for Farrar’s career.
“Without a doubt, the teachings of John Nalbandian regarding the politics/administration dichotomy serve as the foundational learnings that I cherish and often utilize to this day. As a young professional in Overland Park’s city hall, those classroom discussions were the lenses through which I looked at everything going on around me, and helped me clearly grasp the role of city/county management professionals.
“As an intern-option graduate, I credit the KU MPA program with providing the classroom/theoretical [education] that grounded me with the essentials and the opportunity to immediately apply them in the workplace,” he said.
More than that, Farrar says, he formed strong bonds with his classmates that he maintains to this day.
“Concurrent with the personal maturing I experienced after relocating from Maine, my favorite memory is developing friendships with my full-time classmates in the program. Those friendships continue, at different levels — a few through social media! — but are some of most valued relationships I have today.”
Farrar graduated from the program in 1993 and held several positions with the City of Overland Park until 2000, when he transitioned to the private sector as Director of Government Affairs for Time Warner Cable (TWC) Kansas City.
Though he was no longer working in public service, he found that his MPA education and local government experience made it possible for him to help TWC navigate over 50 franchise relationships.
Farrar has since moved on to Comcast, and his time in the public sector is now outnumbered by his years in the private sector, but Farrar credits KU’s intern-option MPA program with setting his professional path. “If not for the KU MPA program, I would not have secured a position with the City of Overland Park and would not have had the professional experiences which have led me to my current role as Vice President of External Affairs with Comcast,” he said.
A sense of gratitude for the opportunities the intern option afforded him, and a desire to invest in a new generation of professionals, has fueled Farrar’s donations through the years.
“My hope is that MPA students immerse themselves in the opportunity presented by the KU program and actively engage professors and practitioners in their [studies] so they graduate from the program with a thirst for public service and a never-ending drive for excellence.”
- 2015-present: Vice President of External Affairs, Comcast of Oregon and SW Washington
- 2011-2015: Vice President of Government Affairs, Comcast of Oregon and SW Washington
- 2007-2011: Vice President of Public Affairs, Time Warner Cable San Diego
- 2000-2007: Director of Government Affairs, Time Warner Cable Kansas City
- 1993-2000: Various Assistant positions, City of Overland Park, Kansas
- 1991-1993: Intern, City of Overland Park, Kansas
- 1990: Summer intern, Lewiston, Maine City Administrator’s Office
- 1989: Summer intern, Maine State Department of Environmental Protection
On a personal note
“I would be remiss in not giving thanks to KUCIMATs Don Pipes (deceased), Kristy Stallings and David Watkins (deceased) for the influential role they each played in forming my professional values, beliefs and practices. Thanks also to Overland Park’s then Mayor, Ed Eilert, now Johnson County Commission Chairman, for being such a strong elected official role model to observe and learn from within the City Manager/Mayor/Council form of government — he remains the best Mayor I’ve had the pleasure of working with during my public and private sector careers.”
The use of the KUCIMAT MPA Support Fund includes supporting student attendance at professional conferences and participation in part-time internships and research with local governments. Priority is given to activities that allow students to engage with professionals at practice so that they can apply classroom knowledge in the real world. The fund is managed by KU Endowment, and anyone can contribute to the fund.