The University of Texas-Pan American celebrated the graduation Dec. 7 of its first class of students to complete the Certified Public Manager (CPM) Certification Program now offered at the University.
The 21 program participants received their certification at a ceremony held in the Capital Auditorium in Austin.
The program is aimed at the working individual by providing them with information that they can readily use in the workforce said John Milford, CPM Program coordinator. He said individuals in the public sector, such as local government professionals and elected officials, educators, and federal, state and nonprofit staff members would benefit from the program.
"There has always been a need for this type of administrative infrastructure to provide 'cutting edge' instruction to our professionals in the Valley," he said.
The CPM program is nationally accredited and offered in 33 states. The national criteria allows for only one university per state to hold the umbrella arrangement to offer the program, which is Texas State University (TSU). UTPA has an agreement with TSU to offer the program.
The different tracks or programs, which are taught by a combination of practitioners and academic instructors, address such topics as personnel administration, quality management and strategic planning, organizational communication, public finance and budgeting, productivity and program evaluation, and information systems. Track seven, the program's capstone, requires the preparation of a major applied project related to the student's organization or area of interest.
A track is a total of 17 contact hours that is segmented in two different months or times Milford explained. For example, the cohort will meet only one Friday and a half day on Saturday - in effect meeting only one and a half days a month.
"The program does not require participants to have an undergraduate degree and is beneficial to anyone seeking to acquire knowledge-based skills to further their careers," Milford said.
Among the 21 participants graduating in the first cohort that began in October 2008 was Annette Muñiz, who entered the CPM program at the encouragement of her boss Hidalgo County Clerk Arturo Guajardo Jr.
Muñiz, who has worked for the county for almost 10 years, serves as Guajardo's chief deputy. She saw the program as a great opportunity to further her education and enjoy the chance to network with people from other governmental bodies such as the City of McAllen.
"It is a nationally accredited program and a very good tool I will be able to use later on," she said.
As a person who left college during her senior year and about to see her youngest child graduate from law school, Muñiz said her participation in the program has rekindled her interest in going back to school.
"This is a way to get back into it," she said, crediting Milford for his encouragement and keeping the students focused on completing the program.
Her capstone project focused on innovative government and highlighted a project done in her office that resulted in funding, outside the general fund, to preserve county records.
"This program is great. It is a very doable program and you are able to use what you learn right away," she said.
The next cohort will begin January 2010 and is limited to 30 participants. The registration fee per track is $595, which includes all materials and information.