Behind the Scenes of State Authorization with the John Glenn College of Public Affairs

headshot of Katy Hogan
Katy Hogan, director of Washington programs for the John Glenn College of Public Affairs

This month in “Behind the Scenes of State Authorization,”  we focus on the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, which brings a unique perspective on authorization required to physically operate outside the state of Ohio.

Ohio State’s Washington, D.C. presence includes the John Glenn College’s Washington Academic Internship Program for undergraduates, their Master of Public Administration in D.C. program, and the Moritz College of Law Washington, D.C. Summer Program.

To provide more context about what is required to physically operate within the nation’s capital, we interviewed Katy Hogan, director of Washington programs in the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. Hogan provides insight on some of the challenges experienced over the past year and a half, as well as some of the quirks of state authorization and operating an academic program and presence outside the state of Ohio.

How long has the John Glenn College had its physical presence Washington, D.C.?

The Glenn College launched the Washington Academic Internship Program over 21 years ago. When Senator John Glenn came back to Ohio after retiring from the U.S. Senate, he started to lay the groundwork for what is now the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. One of the first things that were talked about and envisioned was the Washington Academic Internship Program. (Glenn) thought it was important for students from the Midwest, students who came from towns like he did, to get to our nation’s capital and be in the room where things happened and understand public policy and have some involvement in the greater federal process of public service.

When was the first interaction of John Glenn College with state authorization for becoming approved by the HELC?

We became familiar with the Higher Education Licensure Commission (HELC, Washington, D.C.’s post-secondary education regulatory agency) around 2015 or 2016 and began working closely with (Ohio State’s) state authorization team to make sure we were authorized appropriately within the District of Columbia.

What was your first impression of working with state authorization in relation to operating the Washington, D.C. program?

Thank goodness we have this resource available to us! (John Glenn College) felt really supported to navigate what is a necessary process, and a really complicated one at times. It’s my understanding that not every D.C. program (from other institutions) has a clear line to an office like state authorization to manage the process as well as Ohio State.

Once we got connected to state authorization, it was really clear that we were in the right place; and that it was within state authorization’s purview to assist, support and handle it expertly and professionally. It allowed the John Glenn College to work on their programs and overall mission of the D.C. office, which is ultimately to provide students excellent internships and career growth opportunities within our nation’s capital.

Over the past year and a half, the pandemic has disrupted life. How has it impacted your program in D.C.?

March 2020 everything changed for us, just as it did for everybody. We sent our students home and didn’t have any idea when they would be back. During Summer 2020, it became clear to us that we weren’t going to be able to offer the experience that we had always offered, which is an in-person, high-touch program. We see students in different settings, ranging from taking them to the Capitol Building to meet with a U.S. Senator, having a policy class once a week, or hosting a panel of alumni to talk about their careers in public service. Those are the things that make the program so valuable.

We took summer 2020 to educate ourselves on how to offer a high-quality, high impact program virtually. We were able to engage over 150 alumni this year, we built a curriculum, and we brought D.C. to students through a screen. Our three core program objectives for our undergraduate and graduate programs were met – which was a strong connection and network in D.C., professional experience in D.C., and exposure to D.C.

In many ways, these programs are pipelines for our students when they become alumni and start their careers in D.C. Many MPA-DC students stayed after graduation in May, and as I said, many of our undergrads who went through the virtual programming have found their way here (in D.C.) into full-time careers.

What were some of the challenges through the reopening process that were endured?

At the beginning it was looking at the bigger puzzle. What will safety look like when we bring the students here in early September 2021, and how do we do that in D.C. while staying compliant with D.C. local laws and campus policies and procedures? Once we found the right people on campus, I was really impressed with the response, such as being provided with COVID testing kits and guidance on what to do in the various situations that could unfold as we’re all working through whatever the next chapter is to the pandemic. I’m grateful for all the support from the different stakeholders. That’s one of the values having a well-resourced, large institution with so many experts. Once you find them, I felt very supported.

What’s the best thing about state authorization from the lens of your office?

The most rewarding thing about working with the state authorization team is the professionalism and expertise. It really takes a great deal of energy and work off our portfolios and allows us to continue working towards our mission. Of course, we want to be in compliance and in good standing with the D.C. government. We’re only going to continue to grow. We’ve had the undergraduate program for 21 years, and we’ve launched the MPA-DC program and are about to welcome our second full cohort this fall. We are (also) about to launch a new graduate certificate and minor program which will allow students in graduate programs across campus with an interest in policy to come to D.C. It allows us to continue to innovate, to continue to offer opportunities to students from a diverse range of disciplines from across campus to come to our nation’s capital. I think that’s incredibly valuable and important.

Since the Glenn College is unique with having a physical presence that requires additional authorization outside of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), and working with the HELC, what’s something you want everyone to know about your presence in Washington, D.C.?

Our programs are a gem. We offer really high-quality experiences for students at Ohio State, who are undergrads in any major. MPA-DC students spend their second year in D.C., and soon graduate students can participate in the new graduate minor or certificate program in D.C. I think we’re a gem because we’re so small, we’re a faculty member and two full-time staff (physically located in D.C.), but we offer an opportunity that can really serve anyone at Ohio State who is interested in public service or public policy – I think that’s special.

Does your unit have a physical presence in another state or in Washington, D.C.? Contact the state authorization team to ensure the university is in compliance with all local and federal education regulations.