Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Taubman Center

Professor Valerie Cooley Awarded Presidential Faculty Fellowship

January 30, 2014

Valerie Cooley teaching Introduction to Public Policy

Taubman lecturer Valerie Cooley has been awarded a Presidential Faculty Fellowship from Rhode Island Campus Compact. The fellowship program provides funds to college educators to foster civic and community engagement beyond the classroom. Cooley will pilot a state budgetary analysis as part of this spring’s Introduction to Public Policy class. 

Cooley’s class will analyze -- in real time -- Governor Lincoln Chafee’s proposed 2015 state budget. Working in teams, students will study the budget process in-depth, conducting interviews with a budget analyst, agency personnel, and relevant advocacy groups. Students will also consider Governor's budget release remarks, attend budget hearings and review past budgets. Cooley developed the state budget project with the help of Kerrissa Heffernen, director of faculty engagement at the Swearer Center, and two Taubman alumni steeped in state fiscal policy.

“This project would never have been possible without the help of Kayleigh Pratt and Kelly Rogers. Their expertise and willingness to educate me in the state budget process, help develop the assignment, visit the class, and provide community contacts have been invaluable.” Pratt MPP ’12, is a legislative fiscal analyst in Rhode Island’s Senate Fiscal Office and Rogers MPP ’12, is manager of policy and public affairs at the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council.

The class project will allow students to learn directly from community practitioners, who will serve as co-educators to combine insights from both theory and practice. The longer-term goal for future classes is to equip Taubman students to provide analysis that may be helpful to legislators or other stakeholders, says Cooley.