Faculty Spotlight: Leonard BrightMay 2012
Dr. Leonard Bright holds a PhD in public administration and policy from the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University. He joined the Bush School after serving as an associate professor in the School of Urban and Public Affairs at the University of Louisville. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of South Florida and his master’s at the University of Idaho.
Dr. Bright’s research focuses on leadership, and organizational management and behavior. He is considered one of the top experts in his field on public service motivation research. Currently, he is working on some nine different projects--a daunting agenda, but one that inspires him. One book project is examining the job and organizational “fit” of an ideal employee, but he is also looking at issues such as the public employee’s perception of pay related to job duties and performance. He is interested in defining the ideal public servant by examining personality skills in order to create a profile and then comparing this profile to what both the manager and employee are seeking.
As a professor, his first duty is to provide knowledge and instruction to his students; but he also sees collaboration as a trend in his field that he tries to implement in the classroom. Bright says his students “learn to put the team first, see the management implications of policies, leverage the talents of all in the group, and not be afraid of the complexity that diversity can bring.”
Dr. Bright says he was impressed by the Bush School’s reputation and its focus on public administration and public service. “Here at the Bush School, the faculty is educating students to work in the field. I think that’s important,” he says.
Currently he is teaching a range of courses, including program evaluation, organizational theory, advanced public management, and tools of leadership. Bright says his teaching style is interactive, with a mix of lecture and discussion, something he learned from his graduate school professors. “My job is about teaching,” Bright says, “and about making sure students succeed. I don’t want my research to diminish students’ classroom experience or learning processes. This isn’t about what’s easiest for the teacher, but what’s best for the student.”
As for the future, Bright hopes to lead a Capstone project, ideally on microfinance. Having taught in institutions that focused on research and on teaching, he considers himself a specialist in his research, and a generalist when it comes to teaching as he has taught a wide variety of graduate courses.
Dr. Bright and his wife, Christina, recently moved to College Station. They both love the outdoors, especially deep sea fishing, hiking, traveling, and going to the beach. Bright spends his spare time working on his boat and working on the mini-ranch he has purchased here in Texas. He hopes to build a home and plant organic fruits and vegetables. Though he is very busy with his new job, he likes to do most of the work himself when possible, as he considers himself a “self-proclaimed Mr. Fix-it.”
“I really enjoy being at the Bush School, and I hope to be here many years. I think I’ve found my home,” says Bright.