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Shannon K. Portillo

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - School of Public Affairs & Administration
Associate Professor
Primary office:
Wescoe Hall
Room 4060T
University of Kansas
1445 Jayhawk Blvd
Lawrence, KS 66045

Shannon Portillo, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Kansas. Dr. Portillo takes an interdisciplinary approach to her work pulling on organizational theories rooted in Public Administration and Law and Society to explore how rules and policies are carried out within public organizations. To date she has done work in a broad array of organizations including the military, problem-solving courts, probation, restorative justice programs, administrative hearings, policing, higher education and city management. Using a variety of methods, she collects empirical data to assess how social, cultural and legal factors influence the day-to-day operations in these organizations. Teaching and research interests include social equity, social justice, organizational theory, and law and public management. Her work has appeared in Law & Policy, Administration & Society, Law & Social Inquiry, Journal of Public Administration Research & Theory and Public Administration Review.


Ph.D., Public Administration, University of Kansas

B.A., Political Science,International Studies Co-Major, University of Kansas


In all of my courses I have three goals: 1) to facilitate open and critical discussion around the topic area, 2) to connect the themes of the course directly to current issues and debates and 3) to develop students’ critical thinking through meaningful writing activities. I want students to develop into critical consumers of knowledge rather than memorize specific cases, statistics or facts. My classes are designed to give students the capacity to look at current and historical issues in public affairs through many critical lenses so they may have a broad base from which to develop their own views.

Teaching Interests

  • Law & Society
  • Social Equity
  • Social Justice
  • Law & Public Management


My research focuses on how managers and street level workers adhere to policy while navigating formal (rules/laws) and informal (norms) organizational structures.

Research Interests

  • Law & Society
  • Social Equity
  • Social Status
  • Race/Ethnicity and Gender
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Rules & Public Law
  • Organizational Theory


I am committed to professional service in School of Public Affairs & Administration as well as my broader professional community. This year I am serving on 50th anniversary planning committee for the Law & Society Association. I also regularly serve as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation as well as numerous publications in our field. In addition, I strive to translate my scholarship for practice and regularly present to community groups and practitioner audiences.

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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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