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SPAA PhD Graduate Seth Meyer ('18) Transitions from Practitioner to Professor

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“I’ve been active with nonprofits and nonprofit management for a period of time from high school ’til now, but I will not say the number of years,” joked PhD graduate Seth Meyer ('18).

Meyer’s remark innocently reveals a long educational journey and career devoted to the public good.

As a licensed social worker, Meyer’s career has focused on directly affecting and impacting people’s lives as a resource. He has worked in the foster care system, provided assistance for people with disabilities, and worked with Deaf adults struggling with mental illness and addiction.

His work was such a critical part of his identity that Meyer hesitated to pursue a PhD in a different field, but was so impressed with faculty members like Dr. Norma Riccucci that he decided to join Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) and make an impact in a new area of study.

“My attitude was that I’m a social worker, I should be going for social work, but I just ended up really loving the program at Rutgers,” Meyer said.

As a PhD student, Meyer successfully dovetailed his background in social work with public administration by focusing on nonprofit management. Early in his studies, he worked as a teaching assistant for Dr. Lindsey McDougle, a prominent scholar in nonprofit administration and management whose mentorship helped Meyer make a name for himself.

“Lindsey was a great mentor, she pushed me to start very early on to apply for conferences and getting my name out there and where I am right now in the academic community is because of her,” Meyer said.

As a nonprofit scholar, Meyer’s collection of accolades has grown to include a Best Student Paper Award and a Diversity Scholars and Leaders award from the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA). He has also received several fellowships, including a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Fellowship in which he spent two months in South Africa exploring gaps in the services provided by nonprofits for his dissertation on intraorganizational relationships and conflicts within multisite nonprofits.

Meyer has also taken the lead in diversity initiatives within SPAA, including organizing a roundtable on LGBTQ issues in the workplace, which addressed the legal, ethical, and personal issues related to civil rights and protections for LGBTQ individuals.

“Seth has proven himself to be a highly capable researcher and an emerging scholar with significant promise. He will surely be successful in his future academic career,” said McDougle. “He has the necessary ingredients to one day become a star and a leading scholar in the field.”

Meyer says that his time in the program not only allowed him to excel as a researcher, but also prepared him for a future in academia.

“Being here allowed me to really understand what it meant to be a professor,” Meyer said. “It prepared me well so that I knew I was able to get a job.”

Meyer’s preparation resulted in a position as an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts where, starting fall 2018, he will continue his research and teaching in nonprofit management.

“SPAA has been such a warm, welcoming environment for me as a PhD student,” Meyer said. “Professors went out of their way to be helpful and were invested in my success.”