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Nathan Favero Talks About Public Administration and Being a Professor at SPA, His "Dream School"

Nathan Favero

Nathan Favero says he was drawn to public administration and policy because it felt like it mattered. “It helps us get answers to create a better society," he said.

A 2016 graduate of Texas A&M University with a doctorate in political science, Favero’s advisor was Kenneth J. Meier, who recently joined the faculty of SPA as the Inaugural Distinguished Scholar in Residence. It was Meier who got Favero fascinated with public administration.

“Administration is so important. There are hardly any policies that can be implemented without large organizations to implement them,” says Favero.

Much of Favero’s research focus is on education policy, which he notes can’t be put in effect without the cooperation of schools. One of his recent projects examines performance funding in higher education. As states tie funding to school graduation rates, he is analyzing the impact of those policies on equity and possible harm to schools that don’t perform well. Favero has presented the results at a conference and has a paper under review for publication.

Favero is also doing several projects on citizen satisfaction with government institutions. Teaming with an SPA doctoral student, Favero is looking at a data set of Korean schools to evaluate how people’s values enter into the way they evaluate the quality of services they are receiving. “The idea of quality can be in the eye of the beholder. People might define quality in different ways,” says Favero.

Favero says citizen satisfaction is a way to measure performance.

"It can be difficult for managers to know if a public organization is successful," said Favero. "With education, standardized exams are often used. In some organizations, users are surveyed to gauge citizen satisfaction. It’s critical to understand how citizens are making evaluations to know if it's a reliable way to measure performance."

Working at SPA, Favero says he enjoys the interdisciplinary faculty mix with political scientists, sociologists, and economists working together in a rich intellectual community.

“I wanted to be in Washington because this is where everything is happening. Everyone here cares about politics and government,” says Favero. “AU was a school I had my eye on as an undergrad. It was my dream school. Usually you don’t get to be a professor at your dream school early on in your career. I feel like I kind of hit the jackpot.”