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Rutgers Center for Executive Leadership in Government Services Brings Expertise to Bernards

Stresses importance of management and leadership training for municipal governments

            NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Rutgers Center for Executive Leadership in Government Services (CELG) has brought hundreds of New Jersey public officials to its New Brunswick site for management and leadership training programs. Now, the center is expanding its outreach by bringing its faculty to its public employee clients. CELG has begun courses for employees of Bernards Township, where 20 public officials have enrolled in the program.

            Response to the program has been exceptional, according to Bernards Township officials.

            “We are only halfway through the first year, but the response has been tremendous,” says Terri Johnson, chief financial officer and human resources officer for Bernards Township.  “Everyone really enjoyed the leadership session. It was very interactive, and the examples the professors used were government specific and very relevant.”

Looking ahead to a potential “silver tsunami” where many employees either have retired recently or are approaching retirement, officials in the Somerset County municipality asked CELG if it would deliver its Mini-Master of Public Administration (Mini-MPA) program off site rather than in New Brunswick, and spread its classes over a number of months to allow employees to complete the certification and to lower the cost to the township. Working together, CELG and Bernards Township officials selected the first four classes from the list of 10 classes offered in its Mini-MPA program.

            Each three-hour session is taught by Rutgers faculty in a graduate seminar format.

            One key to the success for Bernards Township, according to Johnson, is that employees from every department – including the courts, health, public works, finance, police and the Sewage Authority – participated. “That helps promote cross understanding of the challenges faced by each employee and each department that the faculty addressed,” she said.

            “Our township committee is very supportive of the program so we’d like to do it again,” Johnson said. “I would absolutely recommend it to other municipalities.”

            CELG Associate Director Angie McGuire commended Mayor John Malay and members of the township committee for “recognizing the need to assist their management team in addressing best practices and staying current with the latest changes in the field.”

            The Rutgers center will continue to offer off-site training for government agencies with sufficient enrollment, said CELG Director Alan Zalkind.

            “The Center for Executive Leadership has a forward-looking program and is committed to improving the management capacity of government officials, wherever and however possible,” said Zalkind. “When Bernards Township told us they had 20 employees interested in our program, we didn’t hesitate to accommodate their needs.”

            CELG provides management and leadership training programs for public sector professionals. It offers an Executive Master of Public Administration in collaboration with the Rutgers University-Camden Department of Public Policy and Administration, a Mini-Master of Public Administration in New Brunswick, and leadership certificate programs.

CELG is a unit of the Rutgers’ Center for Government Services, which has provided timely and relevant training for New Jersey state, county and municipal employees for more than