News from the Bush School

Dr. Kent Portney - Faculty Spotlight

February 27, 2015

Kent Portney Kent Portney, professor in the Bush School’s Department of Public Service and Administration (MPSA) and Senior Fellow in the School’s Institute for Science, Technology and Public Policy, earned his PhD in political science from Florida State University and his master’s from the University of Connecticut. Dr. Portney’s areas of expertise and interest include environmental policy, urban sustainability, and economic inequality. Portney joined the Bush School faculty last fall and taught a course on environmental policy and a course in urban sustainability in the spring.

“For a long time, I’ve been interested in city politics and environment issues and how those two work together,” Dr. Portney said. “I trace that interest back to growing up in New Jersey and being surrounded by pollution and toxic waste.”

Prior to his appointment to the Bush School, Portney served as the department chair in the Department of Political Science at Tufts University and directed the Graduate Program in Public Policy and Citizen Participation. Most recently, he was the director of the Water and Research Program at the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy at Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Portney plans on using his personal expertise to enhance Bush School students’ experience with the University.

“My short term goal is to connect the Bush School with other departments at Texas A&M University,” Dr. Portney said. “Texas A&M is one of the top research institutions in the country; and there’s a lot of great work being done here, especially in the fields of environmental and water policy.”

Dr. Portney has authored or co-authored nine books on issues as diverse as economic and environmental development, citizen participation, and urban sustainability. His book The Rebirth of Urban Democracy earned him two awards from the American Political Science Association. He has also been awarded grants from such prestigious institutions as the Ford Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the Polaroid Foundation.

During his first months at the Bush School, Dr. Portney said he noticed something unique about the students at the School.

“The most compelling element about the atmosphere of this institution is how collaborative everyone is,” Dr. Portney said. “From class projects to cooperation between students and faculty, this place is truly unlike any other school I’ve been at. Students at many other places are competitive and singularly driven rather than cooperative.”

Dr. Portney notes that this collaborative spirit is not just limited to the students.

“The cooperation and collaboration among faculty members is tremendous,” Dr. Portney said. “In academia, most researchers are focused on their own work; but here people are always willing to team up and tackle a policy issue together. Personally, the work I do collaboratively is always better. The synergistic quality among both the students and their professors is one of the great things about the School.”

Ultimately, Dr. Portney said he is excited about spending his time working with students and faculty members at the Bush School.

“The quality of the faculty and students is second-to-none,” Dr. Portney said. “The culture is supportive of both research and teaching as well as the merging of the two.”