Leading the Way

Written by: 
Alyssa Yancey

Alumni of nationally ranked program fill city management positions in Texas and beyond

T.C. Broadnax (’93 M.P.A.) knew from an early age he wanted a career that would allow him to have an impact on his community and his fellow citizens.

“I remember passing abandoned homes and lots when I was growing up and wondering why these things were allowed. As I got older, it became apparent that the city, at the very local level, controls these things. I knew then that I wanted to be an avenue for change in the community — a resource for citizens,” says Broadnax, who serves as an assistant city manager for San Antonio.

Broadnax’s passion for city administration strengthened during his undergraduate career at Washburn University in Kansas, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in political science and organizational communication. His professors then recommended he pursue a master of public administration degree at UNT.


Stellar reputation

Hundreds of students have followed a path similar to Broadnax’s since UNT first started offering an M.P.A. in 1969. Forty years later, the program has solidified its reputation as one of the most respected in the country. The Department of Public Administration’s city management and urban policy program is ranked ninth in the nation, according to the most recent U.S. News & World Report rankings.

“We are committed to giving our students the opportunities they need to succeed,” says Robert Bland, who has served as chair of the public administration department since it was separated from the Department of Political Science in 1992. “We want them not only to be exemplary managers but also exemplary citizens.”

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UNT graduates serve as city managers, deputy city managers or assistant city managers in cities across Texas, including:

  • Dallas
  • Fort Worth
  • Arlington
  • Bryan
  • Tyler
  • Harlingen
  • Kerrville

Alumni also work in various other city leader positions in dozens of Texas cities, and others serve in city management roles in:

  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Wisconsin
  • Oklahoma
  • Kansas

“The UNT M.P.A. program has a stellar reputation within Texas and the nation,” says Mike Eastland, executive director of the North Central Texas Council of Governments. “Its graduates fill city manager positions and other important roles in many highly respected and cutting-edge local government organizations. They are making a difference.”


Exponential growth

Claude King (’78 B.B.A.;’90 M.P.A.), city manager for Lewisville, entered the M.P.A. program in 1988 after working for the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation for 11 years. He says he decided to pursue a career in city management because he wanted to have a more direct impact on communities and their residents than what he had been able to do working at the state level.

King began with the city of Lewisville as an intern while working toward his M.P.A. At the time, the city still had the vestiges of a small town, but 20 years later, it is a bustling Dallas suburb. King has been on the frontlines of managing that development.

“When I first began my career, Lewisville was a small city undergoing extensive growth. We were focused on new construction and development, and one of my first projects was overseeing the expansion of State Highway 121,” King says. “Now that the growth has stabilized, I focus more on redevelopment and neighborhood preservation. The education I received from UNT has helped me adapt and grow as the needs of my city have changed over time.”

King’s neighbor to the east, Bill Dollar (’89 M.P.A.), city manager of Garland, is another alumnus who has been working in a hectic Dallas suburb for most of his professional life. Dollar’s 38-year career was triggered by necessity. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1971, but when he didn’t find an engineering job, his father suggested he pursue a job with the city. He began as a design engineer for the city in 1971 and worked his way up through the ranks.

Dollar, a native of Garland who has been city manager there since 2003, says he has been fortunate to be able to play a number of different roles during his career in city government. He was promoted to assistant city manager in 1985 and Jim Spore, the city manager at the time, encouraged him to pursue his M.P.A. from UNT.

“My UNT degree gave me the credentials to be a viable candidate for city manager,” Dollar says. “I get to watch the people around me grow and watch projects I am involved with prosper. City management is challenging, but it also is very rewarding.”


Necessary foundation

Jennifer Fadden (’95, ’97 M.P.A.), city manager of Colleyville, also recognized that UNT was the best fit for her. Fadden was exposed to city government when her father was elected to the city council and served as deputy mayor pro tem in Rowlett. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from UNT and then, after investigating some private graduate schools, decided to stay to earn her M.P.A.

Fadden was selected as a Hatton W. Sumners Fellow and a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development graduate fellow. The HUD fellowship provided her with a paid internship with the city of Fort Worth working as an assistant to Kay Granger, then the mayor. Her job allowed her to accompany the mayor on trips, including one to the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

“Participating in graduate fellowships exposed me to things that I otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to,” Fadden says. “It allowed me to see some of the skills that are necessary for public management in action — leadership, action, motivation.”

Broadnax agrees that his UNT experience gave him the necessary skill set and helped guide his career. After graduating from UNT, he served as assistant city manager, deputy city manager and assistant to the city manager for Pompano Beach. He joined the city of San Antonio in 2006. As an assistant city manager, he oversees housing and community development issues and planning and neighborhood services.

“The best part of being in city administration is seeing the things that you had a hand in come to fruition,” Broadnax says. “From being able to help get a public facility off the ground to helping a citizen who doesn’t know where to turn, it is all very rewarding. It was the foundation I got at UNT that helped me get where I am today.”