By Katie Milligan
On Friday mornings in a classroom of the Bowen Law school you can expect to hear excited chatter and feel a buzz of energy from the new class of Clinton School students. Today was no different. Today Dean Emeritus and Distinguished Professor of Law and Public Policy, John DiPippa, taught “Foundations of Public Service” to a class of forty-two of the newest group of public servants. Chad and I had the opportunity to sit in on the class.
As a recent Clinton School grad, I am very familiar with Dean DiPippa’s teaching style. He usually starts by giving you some huge, complex ethical question, like “What is public service? Who are good public servants? What or who is the public? What is public good?” You take a deep breath because you think there is no way that you can answer those types of questions in two hours.
Slowly but surely, a magical thing starts to happen. Your genius classmates begin imparting wisdom. They start talking from their own experiences, from across continents, occupations, and ages. You start hearing anecdotes and insights that spark new conversations and take your entire class to a higher level of conversation and understanding…all the while Dean DiPippa paces the floor and inserts witty commentary or decides to play devil’s advocate to spin the conversation on its head.
Today, Dean DiPippa started the class by asking Class 9, “what public servant inspired you?” “What were the qualities these public servants had?” Over and over Chad and I heard variations of key words: integrity, boldness, passion, commitment, willingness to share credit, and selflessness. These are the qualities that Noble Impact emphasizes to our scholars and students throughout the Institute and now in the classroom.
Public service isn’t about credit or about the glitz and glamour. True public service needs to constantly question intent and motivation. It is about being purposeful through actions to help the greater good. All public servants should routinely conduct a heart-check. Are you doing it for the credit? Are your intentions Noble?
Maybe the best way to explain it is exactly what Dean DiPippa said to us, “Public Service is an attitude, as much as a set of skills.”
It was fantastic to see the Clinton School students discuss and challenge one another and to hear their insights. Big thanks to Class 9 and Dean DiPippa for letting us come visit! We’ll be back for sure.