The History and Evolution of the Southeastern Conference for Public Administration

David Berlan, Ruowen Shen, William Earle Klay


The Southeastern Conference for Public Administration (SECoPA) began in 1969 in the wake of reapportionment and desegregation. The founders of SECoPA sought to promote the emergence of a new South, one that would be both dynamic and inclusive, by promoting the practice and study of public administration throughout the region. In the decades since, SECoPA has continued to host annual conferences serving the region. Through coding and analysis of annual conference programs, and using the lens of new institutionalism, this article explores SECoPA’s history and fidelity to its founding mission. The annual conferences have been responsive to concerns of public administration scholars in the region, but drastic declines in practitioner participation mirror broader trends in the profession.


Academic Conference; Profession of Public Administration; Southern States

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