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Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Domonic Bearfield

Dr. Domonic Bearfield At the age of 16, Dr. Domonic Bearfield knew he wanted to become a professor. His idealized version of academic life consisted of wearing tweed jackets while driving a convertible MG through the streets of a leafy New England college town. What he liked most about the idea was a career spent talking to smart people about important issues and ideas. He would eventually work in a leafy New England college town and still does manage to wear quite a bit of tweed, but he has yet to buy the MG despite the warm Texas weather.

Dr. Bearfield is still passionate about the pursuit of ideas. He originally thought he would get a Ph.D. in English but felt a pull towards public service. "As a child, both of my parents were heavily involved in public service. My mother spent a large portion of her career working for the Boy Scouts, and my father enjoyed a career in law enforcement for over 20 years. In many ways, public service is sort of a family business for us," he explains. As an undergraduate, Dr. Bearfield became deeply concerned about the experiences of citizens and their interactions with public administrators. "During the late 80s and early 90s, a trend emerged that citizens should be treated as clients. It is an idea that has never sat well with me. While it may sound like a semantic debate, it seems to me that in a democracy citizens should be treated like citizens," he argues. Focusing on the Progressive Era, widely accepted as the founding period of American public administration, helped him understand this evolution. Dr. Bearfield feels his work "is an examination of the ideas and practices that shaped the field of public administration during the Progressive Era." These ideas include citizen participation, administrative reform, and the ways in which public administrators have used the human resource function in pursuit of broad ideals.

Dr. Bearfield cares deeply about being a good teacher. At the Bush School, he has taught a variety of courses including leadership, ethics, human resource management, and organizational theory. A big believer in the Socratic method of teaching and inquiry-based learning, he aims to help students make the transition from undergraduate school to graduate school.

When asked why he decided to come to the Bush School, Dr. Bearfield pointed to the school's creative and intellectual energy. The interdisciplinary environment of people trained in different schools of thought — economics, law, nonprofits — has exposed him to different ways of thinking. It is an approach he credits with helping him to become a better teacher and scholar.

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