(Editors Note: Below is a copy of a letter I received from Brandman University’s Chancellor after notifying the school that two of their students would be recognized as part of PublicCEO’s Local Government Awards.)

Dear Mr. Oney:

I wish to extend my sincere appreciation for your recognition of two outstanding Brandman University students, Cindy Smith and Janice Voshall. The 2011 PublicCEO Service to California Award is a distinguished honor. I know of no two people more deserving.

As interns for Barbara Kogerman, who now serves on the City Council of Laguna Hills, Cindy and Janice collected data for her Orange County City Manager Compensation report. The report led to others and to the groundbreaking study that exposed salary levels of some public employees that many considered egregious. Their research set in motion a public discussion about local government that has had tremendous implications. The ensuing City of Bell scandal focused much attention, some positive and some negative, on our two students. They endured harsh criticism; were interviewed numerous times on national television; and testified in front of Sacramento legislators, consistently demonstrating tremendous poise and maturity. In addition to the wonderful award announced today, they have also received recognition for their efforts from Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson, State Senator Lou Correa and Assemblyman Chris Norby.

The Masters in Public Administration is a relatively new program at Brandman University. We launched it in January 2010 to prepare students for the world of public service, particularly in local and state public agencies and non-profit organizations. The Brandman MPA was designed to meet the needs of the 31,000 working professionals serving in Orange County’s city and county government who want to advance their careers and those interested in the public sector. The first class started with just 18 students, two of whom are Cindy and Janice. Unlike programs offered at many other universities, the courses in Brandman University’s MPA program are often taught by leaders in Orange County and city government. As a member of the prestigious Chapman University System, Brandman University’s heritage and reputation has helped us to attract these influential leaders to the faculty. I encourage you to read more about Brandman’s MPA program and visit Brandman University on the web.

The program is directed by Fred Smoller, PhD, a resourceful 27-year veteran professor of political science at Chapman University who last year delivered the State of Orange County Survey. Brandman’s program provides a blend of theoretical and practical instruction, so students will acquire knowledge in such areas as land use planning, judicial administration, labor relations and collective bargaining in addition to more traditional topics such as public finance and public policy analysis.

Cindy Smith and Janice Voshall exemplify the values of Brandman University. They are both working adults with numerous responsibilities who have overcome enormous personal challenges to return to school and build a career. They are among our first class of graduates from Brandman’s Masters in Public Administration (MPA) program and as future alumni reflect great honor on the university. Their research and contributions have helped to strengthen not only the program, but also local and state government.


Gary Brahm,
Brandman University