Emergency Management track added to UNCP’s MPA program


The spring semester of 2005 marked another milestone in the development of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

An emergency management concentration was added to the already innovative and successful program. The program has experienced rapid enrollment growth, and already offers concentrations in law enforcement and health care administration. In the fall semester, the program had more students enrolled (115) than it has alumni (113).

 Robert Schneider

Robert Schneider

Dan Barbee  

Dan Barbee


In an era marked by natural disasters and terrorism, the new program is a timely one, said Dr. Robert Schneider, chair of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration.

“A concentration in emergency management gives the MPA program national appeal and fills a need in the region,” Dr. Schneider said. “It places UNCP among the leading institutions that are providing higher education preparation in this important field.”

The purpose of the graduate concentration in emergency management is to provide professional training for public administrators. It also provides pre-employment or in-service training for students in the field of emergency management.

The emergency management concentration is designed to improve the abilities of public administrators to prepare for, respond to, plan for recovery from and mitigate natural and man-made disasters.

“The program vaults UNCP into the position of an emergent leader in the field of emergency management,” Dr. Schneider said. “This has to do with the unique features of the region and the creation of an innovative concentration that is one of fewer than 30 programs in institutions of higher education.”

UNCP is located in a region characterized by extensive emergency management involvement as a result of the various challenges presented by exposure to hurricanes and other natural hazards. The region is also a possible target for domestic and foreign terrorism.

Emergency preparedness and response, as well as hazard mitigation is a critical function for all local governments in the region. The new concentration will have as its lead professors two individuals with strong backgrounds in emergency management.

Dr. Daniel Barbee currently serves as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and participates in its community preparedness exercises across the country.

Dr. Schneider is nationally and internationally recognized for several recent publications in the field. Professor Schneider was an invited participant in the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s (FEMA) Emergency Management Institute’s efforts to develop national criteria for higher education programs in emergency management.

Dr. Schneider expects the new concentration to be popular.

“Emergency management is a developing discipline and, naturally, it is important to all communities that must be prepared to deal with the impact of natural disasters,” he said. “The threat of terrorism related violence has increased interest in emergency management, and the capacities that need to be developed are much the same for a major natural disaster as they might be for a terrorist bombing.”

Emergency management training for public administration is something of a natural development for the MPA program, said Dr. Barbee.

“Most local administrators are likely to have responsibilities as a participant in the coordinated emergency planning and response system in their community,” Dr. Barbee said. “Training in emergency management is important not only for emergency responders, but also for planners, city managers, human resource directors and finance directors, as well as traditional disciplines such as law enforcement, fire, EMS, information technology, public works, public health, community services and others.”

The emergency management professional also needs training in public administration, Dr. Barbee said.

“There is a natural affinity between public administration and emergency management, Dr. Barbee said. “Emergency managers are public administrators who manage human and financial resources, deal with other officials and organizations, and who must design and implement solutions to public problems.”

At present, there are 29 universities offering degree programs or concentrations in emergency management. Of these, nine are programs in public administration that emphasize the public management component. Many more programs are being developed across the nation.

UNCP’s new concentration will consist of a 12-hour sequence of courses within the MPA degree curriculum. In addition to “Introduction to Emergency Management” and “Hazard Mitigation Principles and Planning,” students will be able to choose from a list of courses that include: “Technical Applications in Emergency Management,” “The Social Dimensions of Disaster” and “Private and Public Sector Continuity Planning.”

The MPA program, including this concentration, is available online as well as in traditional evening and daytime formats.

For more information, contact the MPA Program Director Nicholas Giannatasio at 910.521.6637 or by email at nicholas.giannatasio@uncp.edu.