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2023 Alumni Awards Recognize Achievement, Community Impact, Student Support

News Type Alumni News

John Glenn College of Public Affairs 2023 Alumni Award Winners, from left to right: John Bartle, PhD ’90; José Morales-Crispin, MPAL ’22; and Mike Howard, MA ’83 (Credit: Majesti Brown)

For the betterment of our country, communities and students, alumni of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs follow their passions in public service careers.

The Glenn College honored three exceptional graduates with its annual alumni awards during the Leadership Forum on Oct. 27.

Distinguished Alumni Award for Career Achievement

John Bartle, PhD ’90
Dean, College of Public Affairs and Community Service, University of Nebraska at Omaha

John Bartle says he doesn’t know of anything more important than our governance — governance, he emphasizes, not necessarily government.

“Why do I care about it so much? I want to make this a better country. You know, not many of us are going to get elected president, right? But how can we do it? We can do it a little bit at a time. When you’re a teacher, you teach hundreds of students a year,” he said. “They then go on to work and have a direct effect on their citizens, their government, the people they work for, or their nonprofit organization, and this is how we as teachers have our effect on the world.”

“Having the security of a tenured position obviously means that you can speak truth to power,” he said, “and that’s one of those things that I think is tremendously attractive about being in the public policy/public administration world.”

In addition to his teaching and research, though, he enjoys doing practical work that directly affects programs and people, such as consulting and working with the state of Nebraska legislature’s planning committee.

“Beyond that, I think it’s really important for everybody to do something in the civic room. Volunteer for a nonprofit. Plant trees. Coach your little league. Those opportunities are there all the time,” he said. “I think that is what civic life should be about. That is what makes our country better.”

Bartle’s research focuses on public financial policy and management, budgeting, transportation, and state and local government. A professor of public administration, he is president-elect of the American Society for Public Administration and treasurer of the National Academy for Public Administration.

He advises the next generation of public service leaders to be driven, have an inner compass about what they want to accomplish, and start small with a stepping ladder where they can learn. Lead by making other people leaders, he said, so you can delegate power to other people and create a healthy atmosphere for dissent — and then be nimble enough to pivot in your leadership and your organization.
He gratefully recalls his own faculty mentors from the Glenn College, then called the School of Public Administration — Chuck Adams, Bill Shkurti, Mary Marvel and Bob Backoff — and continues that legacy as he mentors others in public policy.

“John has a stellar academic and scholarly career lasting over 30 years post-graduation, and he continues to contribute to scholarship and administrative practice,” said his award nominator, Michael Card, PhD ‘92, professor emeritus at the University of South Dakota. “He supports Glenn College alumni, as I speak as one of many recipients of his willingness to share his knowledge and perspectives on teaching, research and service. Further, John’s research, teaching and service represent a devotion to the betterment of society and the various communities in which he lives.”

Young Alumni Achievement Award

José Morales-Crispin, MPAL ’22
Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Office of the Ohio Public Defender

A well-respected leader in the central Ohio Hispanic/Latinx community, José Morales-Crispin works to increase access and opportunities in education, nonprofit organizations and public service.

“He is an outstanding example of Latinx leadership in central Ohio, and he serves as an inspiration for many young Latinos to realize that they can also fulfill their potential and invest in their communities to bring prosperity and opportunity for all,” said one of his award nominators, Lilleana Cavanaugh, deputy chief of the Business Solutions and Outreach Minority Business Division at the Ohio Department of Development.

He is a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and for Rising Youth, Dominican Sisters of Peace, and he serves as a member of the Franklin County Re-Entry Advisory Board, which engages in a broad range of activities that support the full reintegration of justice-involved residents, explores ways to remove barriers and challenges that impede successful reintegration, makes policy recommendations to the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, and builds a local culture that supports equity in housing, employment and social justice for justice-involved individuals.

“What inspires me is to be able to make a change in our communities,” said Morales-Crispin, a recipient of a 2023 Distinguished Hispanic Ohioan award from the Ohio Latino Affairs Commission. “And I think that through my personal and professional career, that’s always been at the epicenter. It’s making sure that I’m doing what I can as an individual but also as part of our community to just make a change, to do what we can to make our communities better.”

Prior to his current position, he worked in community outreach and engagement for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and was a Spanish teacher at Whitehall (Ohio) City Schools, where he established the first Latino Parent Teacher Association.

“To the students, José was a mentor, friend and their most fierce advocate. The students saw in him a role model and an example of what a young male Latino can accomplish with effort and dedication,” Cavanaugh wrote.

“The most rewarding aspect of my journey is not only being able to identify problems, but finding solutions,” Morales-Crispin said. “Being creative in the process is amazing because we’re so used to doing things one certain way that we never explore other ways to do it that are more self-sufficient or more accessible. I think that as minorities we’ve been conditioned that we don’t have access to so many places. That’s what I wanted to change. In the classroom I made sure that my students had access to knowledge and spaces, and I made sure that they understood that what others might see as a roadblock, they could use that to make a change. 

“I’m here thanks to so many colleagues and communities that have trusted me. It’s understanding that I cannot do this by myself,” he said. “There’s so many remarkable folks and communities that show up, and we have worked together to make that change.”

Alumni Service Award

Alumni Service Award
Mike Howard, MA ’83

Mike Howard knows from his own experience that students don’t always have enough money to make it through college on their own, so he eases their paths through scholarship support.

When he was an Ohio State undergraduate studying business, his family had some unexpected health expenses. He needed to work as a musician at a local bar to cover his tuition and books, and he missed out on the valuable social aspects of college.

“A lot of kids these days, I don’t think they can afford to do those kinds of things. Even if they’re full-time musicians like I was, there’s still a lot of debt being incurred,” Howard said. “I managed to get through college with a $3,000 investment, which in terms of dollars today would be around $24,000. For four years that would be $6,000 a year or so. Now it costs much more than that, as we all know.”

Howard spent 44 years of his 50-year career as a CPA in the public sector, including with the Ohio State Auditor’s Office, and he now works for a consulting firm that assists local governments.

He’s happy to support people who pursue careers in public service and charities with the L. Michael Howard Scholarship Fund in Public Policy and Management.

“I consider those careers as both honorable and necessary,” Howard said.

Through an endowment fund he set up in 2013, he has provided scholarships to 12 students who are making good academic progress and who have financial need. He opted to provide current support to students rather than waiting to set up an estate gift. He hopes the scholarships enable students to work less and instead take advantage of other opportunities, such as the Washington Internship Program or something that isn’t directly related to their major.

“There’s nothing wrong with giving when you’re passed away, but you don’t get to see the effects of what it is,” Howard said. “And now I get to see how these kids are blossoming and coming out and getting jobs and making careers. That’s exceedingly cool to me.”

He and his wife, Diane, also have established two other scholarships at Ohio State.

“The most rewarding thing I’ve had so far is meeting the students,” Howard said. “And sometimes they even contact me after they’ve graduated. One sent me an email from Vietnam where she was working as a non-governmental organization consultant.”

“Mike has been a long-standing, generous donor to the college’s students, providing one of the first undergraduate scholarships we have ever offered,” Dean Trevor Brown said. “Not only does he provide generous financial support to our students, but he has gone the extra mile in mentoring them with career advice and professional guidance.”