Hugo Wall School’s new director has academic, practitioner experience

Madeline Deabler

Wichita State’s Hugo Wall School of Public Affairs appointed its new director last month. 

Samuel Brown, who has a long list of job experiences in management of academic, nonprofit and health programs, will start the job July 1. 

Currently a professor and director of Nonprofit Management and Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Baltimore, Brown said his résumé will give him the extra edge teaching in the classroom and in the workplace at WSU.

“I actually spent more than a decade working across all three sectors of the economy, and I now can bring that experience to bare in the classroom, along with the research that I do, as well as in the community service — that’s what allows me to connect very strongly with health and nonprofits,” Brown said. 

Brown will not only have administrative duties as director, but he will also be teaching as a professor.  

“Some people would call me a ‘pracademic,’ which is basically a split between a practitioner and an academic,” he said. “What that describes is the first half of my professional career, because at that time I was actually a practitioner. So I worked in a non-profit sector, a government sector and full-profit organizations.

“Then 15 years ago I began an academic career, and so that is what allows me to bring to the classroom the practitioner experience that I had, so my students get the benefit of someone who has actually done the work as a public administrator.”

A goal of the Hugo Wall School is to strengthen surrounding communities through community service, such as the Enough is Enough task force established last December. Brown is exploring a national movement called ‘development in place.’

“That can be accomplished through encouraging different demographics to move into a low-opportunity community to change the character of the community to make it more attractive,” he said. “To try and make it attractive to middle and high folks to move into low-opportunity communities, to change its character.”

The search committee responsible for selecting the new director had a few things in mind when loooking at candidates.

“We felt it was necessary to have a combination of academic and practical experience that allowed the new director to be able to interact effectively with the varied constituencies of the school,” said Ken Kriz, co-chair of the search committee. 

Kriz said the director would have to work between the Hugo Wall School’s master’s degree program (master’s in public administration) and three research centers within the community — Environmental Finance Center, Kansas Public Finance Center and Public Policy and Management Center.

“As we went through the hiring process, it became evident that Dr. Brown presented the best mix of practical and academic experience that prepared him for such a role,” Kriz said. 

Brown also received praise from University President John Bardo.

“Dr. Brown’s distinguished career in academia and the public and private sectors will expand on our partnerships,” Bardo stated in a news release. “I believe his leadership will make a distinct contribution to WSU’s commitment of service to the community and region.”

Brown said he has many goals for the position and for the school. 

“We will continue the good work that has been going on in the Hugo Wall School because it really has been outstanding work. But we have to find opportunities to do new and entrepreneurial things, and that’s the kind of stuff that I would like to do,” he said.

First on his list, though, is to assess the needs of the community and see what services the Hugo Wall School can offer.

“I’m excited about coming to WSU,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get more engaged in the Wichita community and be in it. I think it is an exciting time to be a part of the innovative campus and the wonderful things going on here.”