May 12, 2015
Cole Blease Graham, Jr., assistant dean of Assessment and Diversity Initiatives and professor in the Department of Public Service and Administration, earned his PhD from the University of South Carolina in 1971. Previously, he received master’s degrees from the Northwestern Louisiana State College and the University of Pennsylvania. Graham’s academic pursuits are focused in the areas of state and local government, social sciences, and governmental administration. At the Bush School, Graham teaches courses in public budgeting and human resource administration.
“I’m focused on developing the hard skills of my students in the courses I teach,” Graham said. “I have them do exercises like run budget simulations and assess employee handbooks. Thorough academic grounding combined with relevant application can give my students a solid start on a public service career.”
Prior to coming to the Bush School, Graham was an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of South Carolina and a research associate in the Bureau of Governmental Research and Services. Graham was promoted to a full professor position at USC in 1994; but before that, he served as a consultant to several health institutions, other governmental agencies, and private corporations. At USC, Graham fulfilled numerous roles, including vice chair of the department, director of the department’s MPA program, dean of the College of Criminal Justice, and interim dean for the College of Liberal Arts. Graham joined the Bush School faculty in the fall of 2009.
“My teaching philosophy centers on academic research and field performance,” Graham said. “In the classroom, I orient my students toward existing research and key concepts, and then we move on to practice applications that they may encounter in the workplace after they graduate.”
In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Graham also serves as the assistant dean of Diversity and Assessment, where he helps develop internal dialogue to increase diversity within the Bush School’s student body and assists with the School’s institutional accreditation. Graham’s deep involvement with the Bush School on an academic and administrative level has given him unique insight into the benefits the Bush School has to offer both its students and faculty.
“The Bush School is focused,” Graham said. “The School’s emphasis on public service attracts a type of student with high ideals. The students at this institution are far more engaged and ready to make a difference in the world.”
Graham is particularly impressed with the resources available to the students at the Bush School.
“We have extraordinary faculty and researchers who exhibit a variety of skills,” Graham said. “Our career consultants are some of the best I’ve ever worked with, and the small class sizes allow more interactive seminar-style discussion.”
Graham is also quick to emphasize what he thinks is one of the Bush School’s most underappreciated qualities—the surrounding community.
“I’d like to dispel the myth that College Station is some dry and dusty town,” Graham said. “People hear ‘Texas’ and they think ‘desert,’ but that is not the case here. The Bush School is part of a major research university—Texas A&M—which sits in the center of a thriving local economy and vibrant culture. We’re a gem on the Brazos River.”
In the end, Graham believes the Bush School presents a beautiful opportunity for students who want to step into the world of public service and administration.
“In two years, you can leave this School with the skills and resources necessary to make a significant impact and contribution to the world around you,” Graham said. “There is no better guarantee than that.”