More than ten years in the making, APU finally launched its new Public Affairs Center, changing the way students can engage in public service.


SACRAMENTO, Calif. – On Feb. 27, Azusa Pacific officially launched the Center for Public Affairs located in downtown Sacramento near the state capitol. The launch was celebrated with an open house event with students, alumni and California elected officials in attendance. The new Center comes after years of planning to increase opportunities for students to engage in public service.

According to the APU website, the Center will be responsible for the Sacramento Study Away Experience program for undergraduate students and the Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree program offered to graduate students integrating excellent training in the theory and practice of public service.

Among the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), the Center is the first of its kind allowing students to have first-hand experience of both political and public life while remaining grounded in Christian traditions, according to APU’s advancement office.

“The students who attend the spring study away semester will have the opportunity to be in an internship with legislators, government agencies and statewide nonprofit organizations,” said Joshua Canada, Director of Strategic Partnerships at APU. “The access and partnership with these entities cannot happen without being in Sacramento. APU has many alumni in the greater Sacramento area.”

With a launch projected for the upcoming semester, the MPA degree program will attract government leaders seeking advanced education in public agency management, public policy implementation and analysis, nonprofit administration and ethics and moral leadership.

“It’s a joy to see this all come together,” said Dr. Jennifer Walsh, Dean of APU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Walsh began her APU career in 2005 as a faculty member. As part of her curriculum building efforts, she developed a state and local politics class where she would invite local officials to visit her class and share about their profession to students.

“It was obvious at the time that students were really intrigued but didn’t know a whole lot about state and local,” Walsh said. “There’s a lack of awareness of what public administration is and how agencies enact policies that really touch everybody’s lives on a day-to-day basis.”

Although APU students can study away in Washington D.C. with the CCCU, Canada said Walsh knew that it was important to have an experience for students wanting to stay closer to home.

“If we’re going to make a positive difference for our communities, then it probably needs to include some sort of state and local component,” Walsh said. “If we could get a dedicated faculty member to focus on public administration and if we could do some sort of dedicated internships for students in these agencies, we could perhaps inspire a whole new generation of public service because this is where politics really makes a difference in the lives of our people.”

After a few years of consideration from APU administration and donors, the university broke ground on the new Center with a $750,000 donation from the Darling Foundation to fund the first three years of the center, according to Canada.   

The Center increases both APU’s presence and Christian higher education in Central and Northern California. According to Walsh, there is no other Christian college-level institution north of Fresno other than William Jessup University located in Rocklin, California.

“It is encouraging to see APU’s reach expand to Sacramento where so many policies are discussed and enacted that affect our APU students, the university and our surrounding communities,” said Jonathan Hughes, government relations manager at APU. “The Center for Public Affairs will provide students unparalleled experiences in public administration and government in the heart of California, the world’s fifth largest economy.”

Undergraduate and graduate students can begin to study and explore their call to public service through the Center beginning Fall 2019.