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June 21, 2005
Contact: Ray Hummert, KU Department of Public Administration, (785) 864-3527.

2 KU MPA students place among top 10 winners in US News national competition

LAWRENCE -- Two University of Kansas graduate students in public administration finished in the top 10 of a national public service competition conducted by U.S. News & World Report and the Vibrant Institute, a Virginia-based company that develops business simulations and training programs.

Rick Osborn of Kansas City, Mo., placed second, winning a trip to Washington, D.C., and Jim Kowach of Topeka finished 10th overall in the competition, conducted earlier this year to create interest in government service careers.

Osborn and Kowach are students in KU's top-ranked Edwin O. Stene master's degree program in public administration. Both are pursuing advanced degrees in the career option program for public administration majors, which includes employed professionals.

The KU students were among more than 2,500 graduate and undergraduate students who competed. Only about 80 finished, according to a report in the May 23 edition of U.S. News.

Contestants were asked to head a fictitious government program called the National Center for Infectious Disease Control for four years of simulated time, which was covered over four weeks of real time.

During the four-week simulation, student contestants had to manage the center's budget and staff and make decisions on items ranging from hiring personnel to preventing illness. The students earned points by keeping the population alive as well as maintaining the public's confidence in the agency, which was measured by the death rate, waiting time for vaccines and medication, and the waiting time to enter a treatment facility.

Osborn felt that the event really let students experience what working in public administration is like. "This put you in the cockpit of education, the flight simulation of management," Osborn told U.S. News reporters. Osborn earned his bachelor's degree from Princeton University. He is the son of Glen and Martha Osborn.

Kowach said that given the opportunity he would participate again. "I really enjoyed the Public Service Challenge and thought the exercises were realistic and relevant for leadership of a governmental agency," Kowach said.

Kowach is chief of the Bureau of Design at the Kansas Department Of Transportation in Topeka, where he has worked for more than 18 years. He earned his bachelor's degree in engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo.

U.S. News & World Report currently ranks KU's MPA program No. 1 in the nation for local government education.

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The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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