Joe Joseph - Master's: Public Affairs (Municipal Management), 1962


I received my BSEE in 1950. After bouncing around a few times and being somewhat successful as a branch manager for Johns-Manville Corporation, I took an interest in city management and enrolled at the Institute of Public Affairs, completing all the course work in 1956. The practice then was to write the thesis based on one’s job experience. I went to Watsontown, Pennsylvania as its first borough manager in February 1957. The town was very small but owned and operated its electric utility system and sewage disposal plant, so I did acquire a broad range of experience – but no thesis. In returning to Texas in 1960, I requested an extension of time for writing my thesis, reason: my family had grown rapidly after my marriage and family responsibilities (plus the stress of my new job) had prevented my timely compliance. I was granted an extension of one year and chose Lynn Anderson as my advisor. In accepting, he directed me very positively: although the time was short, the paper would have to be “letter perfect.” As an aside, the secretary at the time (Ms. Birdsong) assured me that I had picked a stern “task master.” I received the same assurance from students. But my reason for choosing Lynn was that I was so impressed by his knowledge of public finance and his enthusiasm for teaching it, not a particularly exciting subject. Luckily, after a few bumps in the road, my thesis was completed and accepted in time. I don’t know how much I have changed the world but I did set some good precedents at Watsontown, and my seven children have eleven degrees among them, ranging from BA’s to MA’s, LL.D., M.D. and Ph.D. Five of them are from UT-Austin. Thanks to one and all at UT for opening such a gate of opportunity to me, a sort of refuge from a not-so-promising environment and social status, and to my children.


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