John Nalbandian

Professor Emeritus
Primary office:
4060 Wescoe Hall
Room 4060

Joining the faculty in 1976, John has served as department chair on two occasions. John teaches human resources management and specializes in politics and administration in local government. In addition to his academic work, he served eight years on the Lawrence, Kansas, City Council including two terms as mayor. He has spoken about local government to public officials nationally and in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and his ancestral home, Armenia. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his teaching, research, and service. He has been recognized most recently with a Chancellor's Club Teaching Award. He also holds a visiting appointment with Virginia Tech where he consults on their local government program, and he recently completed a three year appointment as the initial Greg and Emma Melikian Visiting Scholar of Urban Affairs at Arizona State University.


John's teaching is characterized by three tenets.

1. Teach in a way that expresses who you are.

2. Do not be afraid to experiment in the classroom.

3. Remember Theodore Roosevelt's guidance: "They don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

Teaching Interests

  • Enthusiasm
  • Experimentation
  • Compassion
  • Writing skill


My research could aptly be called "engaged scholarship." I am engaged with local government professionals, and my research is both designed to reflect their work and to guide it as well.

Research Interests

  • Engaged research
  • Local government
  • Professionalism


I have served the department for 12 years as department chair. My goal in all service assignments is to act in ways consistent with a culture of collaboration and collegiality and to exert my influence for the good of the department, its members and the profession of public service.

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Ranked in the top 10 master of public affairs programs in the nation
—U.S. News & World Report
#1 in the nation for city management and urban policy

— U.S. News & World Report

#5 in the nation for public management

— U.S. News & World Report
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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