Category Archives: Faculty

Up to Us: Our Nation’s Rising National Debt

Up To Us is a student-led campaign to engage the University of Virginia and Charlottesville community about our nation’s rising national debt and its effects on our generation now and in the future.

Led by five fourth-year students (including three Batten students), the Up to Us campaign, began on January 22 and runs through March 2. It is part of a nation-wide campus competition among 10 colleges to develop outreach regarding the nation’s fiscal status and future. The campaign has included over 20 events, ranging from academic (such as Flash Seminars) to social (ex: a national-debt themed trivia night at Mellow Mushroom). Such events aim to increase students’ awareness and knowledge about the national debt.

An event held on January 25th, titled “HOOs Talking about the National Debt”, featured three distinguished professors from various schools: Tom Massaro, Harrison Foundation Professor of Medicine and Law Emeritus, professor of pediatrics emeritus, and an expert on national health care systems; Craig Volden, professor of public policy and an expert on American political processes; and Herman Schwartz, professor of politics and expert on debt and political economy. Each professor shared their viewpoints on the United States budget deficit and its relevant consequences with, despite the snowy weather, over 60 students.  With lunch kindly provided by the Batten Council, the students were extremely engaged, asking thought-provoking and introspective questions throughout the discussions.

One of the centerpieces of the campaign was a speech by Virginia Senator Mark on February 11. Introduced by University President Teresa Sullivan, Senator Warner spoke to an audience of about 500 members of University of Virginia community regarding our nation’s debt crisis. Senator Warner has played a crucial role in addressing our nation’s fiscal challenges. Last year, Senator Warner helped organize a bipartisan coalition consisting of 45 Senators and 100 members of the House of Representatives to urge action on the debt. The former Virginia governor has been active on the issue of fiscal responsibility. A video of his talk is available online.

Throughout the campaign, Up to Us has received generous support from Batten’s community of faculty and students, with numerous sponsorships of events and aid in planning. The Up to Us team is extremely grateful to attend a school where all are so supportive and engaged in such an important issue as the national debt.

Upcoming events include:

Feb 28: How Students Can Save and Build Their Own Financial Future

Professor Karin Bonding

6:30 PM

Robertson 120

March 1: TEDTalk of “Final Thoughts”

Professor Mary Margaret Frank (Darden), Stuart Wolf (Engineering), and a Board of Visitors member will drive home the main take-away points of our national debt issue, why it’s important for students to get involved, and how UVA will be affected.

1:00 PM

Garrett Hall

March 2: Closing Reception

Location TBD

Reception for all the attendees, professors, deans, community members, etc. who were involved in our campaign or who have attended any event

Serves as a closing opportunity for networking to continue work around the national debt

Please visit for more information.

– Post by Ryan Singel, MPP ‘14


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Dumpling Party to Celebrate the Year of the Snake!


The Batten School hosted its first-ever dumpling party in the Great Hall on Monday, February 11, 2013, to celebrate Chinese New Year. Headed by the Career Services Team with the help of four Batten students from the first- and second-year MPP cohorts, the event attracted more than 50 people. The event was open to the entire University community; both Batten and non-Batten students and faculty attended.  In addition to being able to appreciate the lunar year celebration, students had the opportunity to learn how to make dumplings with homemade fillings made by Batten students and Dean Rockwell. Then of course, they were able to enjoy their hard work! A big thanks to the Career Services Team and everyone else who helped make the event happen! Happy belated Chinese New Year!


-Post by Katy Lai, MPP’13

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Panel Discussion: Why Do Leaders Act Unethically?

The inaugural panel discussion for the UVA Leadership Working Group brought two thought-provoking speakers to the Batten School to talk about ethics and leadership. The Batten School’s Professor Benjamin Converse moderated the discussion. The first speaker was one of UVA’s own R. Edward Freeman, an Olsson Professor of Business Administration in the Darden School of Business. The second speaker was Max H. Bazerman, a Straus Professor of Business Administration in the Harvard Business School. Both speakers brought a different perspective of ethics – philosophical and psychological.

Professor Freeman questioned what defines the ethics we as individuals hold. For many, our philosophical beliefs shape how we define ethical behavior. He continued by pointing to the fact the ethics than an individual follows may allow him to sleep at night may indeed cause the rest of us nightmares. It is through these different lenses of ethical views that we judge leaders. However, we need to realize that many individuals can become enmeshed in situations that do not allow for ethical decisions. Therefore, the situation plays a greater role in ethical behavior than we ascribe to it.

Professor Bazerman brought us the ethics of leadership from the psychological standpoint discussed in Blind Spot: Why We Fail to Do What’s Right and What to Do about It, a book he co-authored with Ann E. Tenbrunsel. Bazerman agreed with Freeman that many people would characterize themselves as ethical. However, this characterization breaks down when individuals make decisions for “the business.” He called this ethical fading. Bazerman gave three organizational examples of how the strong desire to maintain the status quo can lead to initiatives that encourage unethical behavior through inaction. He believes that the field of psychology can be used to help shortcut the need to accept the status quo.

– Post by Ammy George, MPP’13

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October Faculty Spotlight: New Professor, Chloe Gibbs

Professor Chloe Gibbs


Name: Chloe Gibbs

Position: Assistant Professor of Public Policy & Education

Academic history: Ph.D., University of Chicago (2012)

M.P.P., University of Michigan (2003)

B.A., University of Notre Dame (2000)

Tell us something about yourself!

I grew up in Kentucky Wildcat country, and went to Notre Dame, so I am a big college sports fan. It seemed easy to incorporate the ‘Hoos and root for them too until Notre Dame joined the ACC recently, so now they will play each other!

What were the driving factors in your decision to join the Batten School faculty?

Having gone to policy schools for both my M.P.P. and Ph.D., I loved the idea of being in this new, up-and-coming policy school at a phenomenal institution. I wanted to teach M.P.P. students, and also felt like my research fit well here, especially with connections to Curry and the ed policy center. When I visited, I really enjoyed talking to the students, thought the faculty with whom I met would be great colleagues, and confirmed my expectations that this would be a wonderful place to be.

What’s your teaching philosophy?

I am still a bit in awe of the fact that I get to teach and work with M.P.P. students. I never would have imagined it 10 years ago, working away on my M.P.P. degree at the Ford School at Michigan. I think about the professors who taught me to think differently about a problem or helped me uncover the questions I was interested in pursuing and answering, or encouraged me to apply a different lens, consider an alternative, or reframe an argument, and I hope I can help students in those same ways. I also remember my post-M.P.P. job search—and those of many of my students in recent years—and want to equip students with skills that give them a competitive advantage in that search and in their careers. If I can help my students acquire and use the tools that will make them strong policy analysts, ready to tackle—critically and thoughtfully—the challenges and issues about which they are so passionate and knowledgeable, then I am happy.

Tell us about your research.

I study the impact and cost-effectiveness of early childhood interventions. I am interested in how we can best intervene—through policy and programs—in children’s lives to address early disadvantages. When kids arrive at school, where we have the most access and perhaps best opportunity to provide services and supports, they already exhibit sizable achievement gaps by socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity. I hope we can uncover, through strong social science research, the most effective ways to rectify those disparities early and set children on a path to success in school and beyond. And, in a world of constrained resources, I also think a lot about how we choose optimally interventions and their timing. On a related note, I am also very interested in the long-term impact of early childhood program participation, and how effects in adulthood relate to immediate impact.

Who inspires you (and what kind of impact do you hope to make with your research)?

I have been very fortunate to have amazing mentors who are involved and influential in important policy discussions, conduct high-quality research, are super smart, and are genuinely nice, wonderful people. I certainly aspire to their examples in my career. And, I know how this is going to sound, but I am most inspired by my two daughters. I want to give them the best opportunities and experiences possible, and I also see every day the amazing process of child development that is relevant to my research. It highlights for me the stark disparities in access to resources (even simple things we take for granted like books), high-quality child care, and preschool opportunities. I think we can get to a better place in terms of how we invest equitably and efficiently in children’s early lives, but we need good evidence to do that.

What are you looking forward to most with the Batten School?

I am really excited to be at a relatively new policy school that is growing and establishing its reputation. I look forward to contributing to that development and seeing it take form. It is fun to be a part of this endeavor with a fantastic faculty, talented, knowledgeable administrators, and wonderful students to boot!

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Batten Ball and Homecomings!

This year’s Homecoming Weekend events was truly an incredible way to celebrate the Batten School’s five year anniversary!  We kicked off the weekend with the Second Annual Silent Auction, which featured more than 30 donated items.  Students, faculty, staff and guests could bid on items such as themed dinners with Jill Rockwell (Belgian Bistro), Dean Harding (Chinese Dinner), Dean Warburg (Election Eve Prognosticators) or Professor Converse (Windy City Brunch); tickets to Bruce Springsteen; a Baseball Package with Howard Hoege; golf and dinner for 4 provided by Keswick Hall; multiple raffles from Duo and Harris Teeter; and so much more.  The auction itself raised over $3,000, almost three times the amount raised last year.  After the Silent Auction, we transitioned into the Batten Ball portion of the night with the delightful jazz band playing fun, upbeat songs that everyone was able to dance to. A huge thank you goes to Katharine Meyer for helping with catering for the event and to Jill Rockwell for finding donors and helping generate ideas. Thank you to Kaycie Gillette-Mallard for all of her work helping find donors and setting up the silent auction and Batten Ball, and Victoria Catanese and Emily Laser as well. Batten Council could not have put on such a successful event without all of your help!

Accelerated MPP Class of 2013

Following Friday’s events, the Batten Council hosted a Homecoming Tailgate on the terrace next to Garrett Hall!  We had AMAZING food catered by Rhett’s BBQ and enjoyed the gorgeous fall day.  Overall, planning these events was extremely worthwhile, everyone had so much fun over the weekend!

– Post by Amanda O’Malley, MPP’13

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October 23, 2012 · 12:03 pm

Batten Builds

On Friday, August 31st, over 100 members of the Batten community sweated through 92 degree heat to perform various service events throughout Charlottesville. As the third annual Batten Builds Day of Service, it was our biggest event yet! We sent volunteers to Habitat for Humanity, the Cedars, City Schoolyard Garden, and Gallastar Equine Center just to name a few.

The Cedars “gardening” project, before

The day kicked off with a delicious barbecue, provided by Rhett’s Raw Bar and Grill. Then our volunteers headed off to their respective sites, where they built garden beds, did trail maintenance, and even repaired a historical boat. The community partners were incredibly grateful for all of our hard work, and many have expressed interest in partnering with the Batten School on more projects throughout the year. Students, faculty, and staff returned to Garrett Hall for a delicious ice cream social after the event to chat and share their experiences.

The Cedars, “gardening” project, after

Batten Builds was an excellent opportunity to get out into the community and make a difference. We can talk policy all day in the classroom but it doesn’t make a difference unless we can get out there and enact change. That’s what Batten Builds was – over 100 of us, from faculty to BA and MPP students, working around Charlottesville to make a difference in the community and in individuals’ lives. — Aaron Chafetz, Acc’13

Although most of us want to do good through policy, I think we all realized that you can do just as much, if not more good, with a rake or a shovel. just having a conversation with someone can positively affect them than the most lucid policy ever could. That’s what I learned. — Patrick Fitzsimmons, Acc’13

Dean Harding with his volunteer group at Batten Builds

Even though Batten Builds seemed to take place on the hottest day yet, it was great to not only be building something to help the community but also being able to get to know fellow Batten students and faculty.  I was able to create wooden frames so that elementary school students can learn more about gardening and nature, and also learned how to use an electric drill from my professor – not your typical service project! — Rachel Locke, BA ’14

I thought Batten Builds was a great way to get to know the community better and help out. I was surprised by how much we got done in the three hours we were there, and it was nice to feel appreciated for all of our hard work afterwards. — Min Yoon, Acc’13

Post by Kaitlin Brennan

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Filed under Community Service, Events, Faculty, Students

Message from the Dean: The Batten School as a “Learning Community”

Over the last three evenings, I had the enormous pleasure of hosting, in Pavilion III, three back-to-back flash seminars on health policy.  The whole idea of the “flash seminar” was an undergraduate student initiative last year, and this particular series was organized by one of our own:  Melissa Rickman, a first-year student in our accelerated MPP program.   The series featured excellent opening presentations by three faculty members:  David Klein (Politics), on the constitutionality of “Obamacare”; Ray Scheppach, on the challenges states face in funding Medicaid; and Eric Patashnik, on the need for basing health care expenditures on rigorous research on the cost-effectiveness of various medications and medical treatments.

A lot of events take place in my pavilion, from formal dinners to faculty receptions to handing out candy to armies of Trick-or-Treaters on Halloween. I enjoy them all, but I find none more rewarding than these flash seminars.  They are easy to arrange (especially with the help from Kerra Thurston, that I’ve had this week), and they perfectly embody the Jeffersonian ideal of informal face-to-face interaction among students and faculty on important issues of common interest.  It was particularly appropriate that this series was held in Pavilion III, since it housed three professors of medicine in U.Va’s early years – so, yes, my living room was once the medical school– and it was also the home of a short-lived Institute of Public Affairs, a predecessor of the Miller Center, that offered public programs on issues of public policy for members of the Central Virginia Community.  (And, it was therefore fitting that participants in this series of flash seminars included members of the Charlottesville community as well as both undergraduate and graduate students from across Grounds.

I hope that more Batten School students will organize more of these flash seminars on important policy problems, that more Batten School faculty will lead them, and that I’ll be able to host at least some of them in Pavilion III.  In that way, we can enhance our role as a “learning community” both inside and outside the classroom.

Message courtesy of Harry Harding, Dean of the Batten School

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