Registration open to become certified public manager

LAWRENCE — Staff at the University of Kansas and from other public sector organizations who seek to grow or refine their managerial skills are invited to do so in a program that begins in January.

Certified Public Manager, offered through the University’s Public Management Center, is a nationally accredited certificate program in which participants develop and strengthen their management skills. The Kansas CPM program brings participants together in the classroom two days per month for one year. This is supplemented with online learning and outside assignments to meet the required 300 hours of structured learning.

During the program, participants complete a capstone project focused on an opportunity for cost savings, revenue generation, process improvement or innovation in their workplace. CPM can fill a training gap for staff with significant technical expertise who seek to further their knowledge of managerial competencies. It also offers an opportunity for experienced managers to refine their skills and learn about current management practices.

Classes cover a wide variety of topics and address the need for both “hard” and “soft” skills in effective management. Some of the topics include coaching and performance management; project management; budgeting; collaboration; conflict management and mediation; and creativity and innovation.

Historically the Certified Public Manager program has served governments and nonprofit organizations all over the state.

“In recent years we’ve been working to make ourselves available as a resource for KU staff as well,” said Terri  Callahan, CPM project manager.

The relevance of the curriculum to those who manage people, projects or programs in a variety of contexts can be seen in the wide array of positions represented in the CPM classroom. Participants have included facilities managers in state and federal agencies, emergency management shift supervisors, hospital lab staff, case managers, and accountants, lawyers, office managers and program coordinators from many public sector agencies and departments.

The standard cost for the 300-hour CPM program is $2,700; the KU staff rate is $1,800. The PMC can work with departments on payment arrangements if necessary.

Return on investment

KU staff member Linda Bruce serves as an accounting specialist with the Center for Research and completed CPM in 2011. She cites a range of ways that the program topics have been of benefit. For example, the session on human resources law.

“It’s so important to understand the limits of what I can address on my own and where I need to turn to an expert,” Bruce said.

Another important class for her was creativity and innovation. Bruce says it reinforced her belief in the value of bringing innovative approaches to her work while also opening her eyes to a different style of learning and problem-solving. She says she now has a much better understanding of how to work effectively with creative people.

Bruce’s capstone project focused on identifying how to reduce the miscoding of purchases and services by accountants in the grant reporting process. The solution proposed by the project team will be implemented beginning in January and is expected to save hundreds of work hours annually for accounting staff, financial managers and auditors while ensuring better University compliance with grantor regulations.

For Parveen Mozaffar, academic services coordinator for the engineering management program at the KU Edwards Campus and 2010 CPM participant, the capstone project allowed her to prioritize development of a comprehensive student recruitment strategy.  “We’re so busy staying on top of what needs to be done day-to-day that it’s hard to make time to take a more proactive approach,” Mozaffar said. “The structure of CPM gave me the opportunity to do that.”

Mozaffar also echoes Bruce’s sentiments about the benefit of exposure to important workplace issues in the CPM classes.  “The topics covered in the program have made me much better equipped to handle challenges in the day-to-day work environment.”

An added benefit

For any staff who may be considering pursuit of an advanced degree, the Certified Public Manager program can have an additional benefit: someone who completes the program and is later admitted to the KU master of public administration (MPA) degree can receive a waiver for two electives.

And, new this year, Certified Public Manager can now be completed as a series of two 600-level courses in Public Administration. This can allow KU staff working on an undergraduate or graduate degree — whether at KU or elsewhere — to earn credits while also honing their managerial skills in the program.

“We’re excited to be able to offer CPM for academic credit,” Callahan said. “Anyone interested in this should note that the CPM program schedule varies from the regular academic calendar. So those seeking academic credit need to work closely with us at the Public Management Center to clarify expectations for the program and how that fits with the academic cycle.”

More information about CPM, including the 2012 schedule, location information, and program content can be found on the Public Management Center’s website at

Housed in the top-ranked School of Public Affairs and Administration, the Public Management Center’s mission is to prepare leaders, develop professionalism in the public workforce and link KU resources to the challenges of management in public organizations.

“Our relationship with the School ensures that all the trainings and resources we offer are grounded in current research,” said PMC director Charles Jones. “The Public Management Center staff supplements this with years of experience in leading engaging workplace education programs. It creates a win-win for our participants.”

For more information about the program, visit or contact Terri Callahan at or (785) 296-2353.