Seton Hall Professor Partners with SO Mayor to Offer Innovative Course in Public Administration

Posted on August 14, 2014 at 3:04 PM

 SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. — Seton Hall University and South Orange Village officials announced today that this fall, Seton Hall will be offering a unique public administration course focused on transparency, data use and collaboration. Pairing an experienced professor and a young mayor, the university is poised to offer students a chance to tie academic work and learning to the real-world impact possible from that. 

The graduate course, Strategic Management for Collaborative Governance, will be co-taught by Political Science and Public Affairs Professor Matt Hale and South Orange Village President Alex Torpey. The Master of Public Administration program course will be a pilot this fall, with plans to expand it in the future.

The course will bring in leading public, private and nonprofit sector experts from the open governance movement for a series of guest lectures and discussions on specific ways that local government can be more transparent and open.  Students will then conduct local research projects and community outreach in Essex County with a goal of implementing the actions recommended by open government experts. Through the course, students will focus on applying newer concepts of open government to managing, overseeing and working in a public agency. 

“This is such an exciting project because we are not just looking at open governance as a theory but as a series of actual action steps our students can do,” said Hale. “Our students have a great opportunity to practice the future of public administration today.”

Torpey hopes the course, through its hands-on approach and immersion in local government, will not only teach valuable skills, but will also inspire the younger generation to get involved at the local level. 

“In a day of record frustration by Americans at their government at many levels, finding ways to help make government an ecosystem of innovation without a focus on party politics is a much needed step towards improving how responsive government can be in the future,” said Torpey.  “There’s too much focus in most traditional public administration classes on how things have been done.  Through this course we’d like to help spark new ideas to improve government operations and responsiveness within local government, while also making the whole process more transparent and getting people more engaged.” 

Matt Hale is an associate professor and director of the MPA program at Seton Hall.  His research focuses on ways that new and old media are shaping and reshaping the public and nonprofit sectors. Hale is a frequent commentator on New Jersey politics in print and broadcast, including The Wall Street Journal, The Star-Ledger, CNN, News 12, and WCBS.

At 23 years-old, Torpey was sworn-in as the youngest municipal chief executive in New Jersey in 2011, and is the youngest in South Orange’s history. Torpey completed his master of public administration in Emergency Management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and his BA at Hampshire College. Torpey founded and is a partner of Veracity Media, a social-impact digital consulting firm, and founded Rethink Leadership, a non-partisan initiative aimed at getting more young people interested in running for office. Torpey frequently writes and lectures on the subjects of governance, youth participation, leadership and technology, including at Social Media Week, the Belfast Technology Conference and the National Constitution Center. Torpey delivered a popular keynote in 2012 at Personal Democracy Forum entitled “The Local Revolution,” which was a call to action for people who haven’t participated directly in government to consider taking their skills to local government by running for office. You can learn more at:  


One of the country’s leading Catholic universities, Seton Hall University has been a catalyst for leadership — developing students in mind, heart and spirit — since 1856.  Home to nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students and offering more than 90 academic programs, Seton Hall’s academic excellence has been singled out for distinction by The Princeton Review, US News & World Report and Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Seton Hall, which embraces students of all religions, prepares its graduates to be exemplary servant leaders and caring global citizens. Its attractive main campus is located in suburban South Orange, New Jersey, and is only 14 miles by train, bus or car to New York City, offering a wealth of employment, internship, cultural and entertainment opportunities. The university’s nationally recognized School of Law is prominently located in downtown Newark.

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