CUPSO – Connecting the Dots for Public Service Institutions

Jacqueline Schumacher
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Birds of a feather flock together, but for university-based public service institutes, it can sometimes feel like a solo flight.  Organizations like the Institute of Public Policy take on a much needed role in conducting public-sector research, program evaluation, needs assessments, data management, and analysis work.  This work is commissioned by a variety of state agencies and non-profits and results in informed policy and practice.  But, not unlike many professional sectors, the Institute of Public Policy, and its cohort of similar centers, desires to be part of a collaborative body of like-minded organizations.  The Consortium of University Public Services Organizations (CUPSO) answers this call.

First organized in 1979, CUPSO’s mission is to support university-based public service institutes on a range of contemporary issues and challenges.  CUPSO facilitates networking, information exchange, and collaboration among its member institutions.  Today the organization has 33 member institutions in 23 states.  CUPSO President, and Institute of Public Policy Director, Brian Dabson, along with Jacqueline Schumacher, Policy Analyst at the Institute of Public Policy, attended the spring 2015 CUPSO conference in Charlottesville, Virginia.  The event was hosted by CUPSO member institution, the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia.

The conference offered suggestions, guidance, and alternatives for public service centers and institutes which, like many university departments, face budget cuts and operate in increasingly polarized political environments.  A variety of staff from institutes and centers showcased their work, shared best practices and innovative approaches for meeting the needs of client-based consultation work.  Schumacher highlighted IPP’s collaboration with the Women’s Foundation and the Community Commons data sharing platform and the web-based tool was very well received by CUPSO members.  The Community Commons data platform tool is used by a number of organization for collaboration, data dissemination, and networking.