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Graduate Students in the News

Since August 2014, Professor Matt Buehler and doctoral student Mehdi Ayari have been working on a co-authored article project entitled "(Mis)managing Authoritarian Coalitions in Tunisia: Minister Survival from Colonial Independence to Democratic Revolutions."  Taking Tunisia as a case-study, the project aims to open the 'black-box' of how authoritarian regimes operate by examining the conditions under which Arab dictators hire and fire their closest advisors, their ministers.  Buehler and Ayari are developing an original data set of over 300 Tunisian ministers using previously untapped Arabic and French archival documents held at Tunisia's National Archives and the Habib Bourguiba Presidential Library.  In summer 2015, Ayari will travel to Tunisia to complete this archival research.  Together, Buehler and Ayari have secured funding for their project through the McClure scholarship, the Scholarly and Research Incentive Funds program, and the Department of Political Science.

Jonathan Barsness, a doctoral student from Seattle is one of four UT students to receive a US Department of State Critical Language Scholarship to travel abroad this summer. Jonathan has been in Madaba, Jordan to study Arabic.

Students Recognized at the Department's Annual Awards Banquet

Current doctoral students Allen Wilford and Randy Willemain shared the David Mock Award for Outstanding Performance by a Graduate Teaching Associate.

Royal (RG) Cravens was the recipient of the John Shanks Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Politics.

The Lee S. Greene Award for Outstanding Performance in Public Administration was presented to Andrew Morelock.

Jonathan Barsness was the recipient of the Award for the Best Conference Paper presented by a UT graduate student.

Nurgul Aitalieva, who recently received a doctorate from UT and is now assistant professor at Indiana University/Purdue University of Fort Wayne (IUPUFW), and Andrew Morelock, a current current doctoral student in the department, were the winners of the 2015 Midwest Public Affairs Conference's Best Paper Award. Their submission, "Citizen Perceptions of Public Policy Success: A Cross-National Analysis" was selected by an independent panel of judges from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and the Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management. MPAC is a regional affiliate of the American Society for Public Administration.

Andrew Morelock, who has been mentioned a few times in this newsletter for winning an internal and an external award, also had an extraordinary, unprecedented achievement. The Municipal Finance Officer Certification and Education Act of 2007 (TCA 6-56-400 et. al.) requires Tennessee cities to have a chief financial officer who is either a Certified Municipal Finance Officer (CMFO) or an individual who is exempt from the educational requirements leading to the CMFO designation. Normally, the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) administers the educational program and testing to achieve the CMFO designation but for students in the UT MPPA program who successfully complete 560 Public Financial Administration taught by Professor Folz and a team of MTAS Financial Consultants, students may choose to take, free of charge on the first attempt, each of the 11 demanding exams that are required to be passed to obtain the CMFO credential.  Andrew Morelock, MPA graduate and current doctoral student, is the first student to complete all of the exams and to earn the highly prized CMFO credential. This training will be of particular value as Andrew prepares to teach the undergraduate budgeting course for the department.

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