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From baseball to one of the nation’s leading scholars: The journey of Dr. Barry Bozeman

Dr. Barry Bozeman
Professor Emeritus, Researcher, Author
A.A., 1966

When Dr. Barry Bozeman first enrolled at Palm Beach Junior College in 1964, he admits he hadn’t yet “caught fire” in the classroom.

“Up to that point I had been a decent, but indifferent student focused more on sports than academics,” said Bozeman. “PBJC provided me a gentle but still high-quality entry into the world of serious learning. It took a while, but I got caught up in it. The quality of the teaching and the dedication of the teachers were first rate.”

Bozeman not only eventually caught fire, but he is also now one of the top professors in the nation in the field of public policy. He is currently at Arizona State University, where he is the Regents’ Professor Emeritus and Arizona Centennial Professor of Technology Policy and Public Management and founding director emeritus of the Center of Organization Research and Design.

His career achievements include earning three endowed professorships, starting four research centers, and writing or co-writing 16 books.

Most important to Bozeman, however, is his role in developing raw talent. His former students include four who have become college presidents at major universities, two who have endowed chairs at major universities, one who became the president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, as well as many who have become CEOs and heads of federal and state government agencies, including previous directors of NASA and the Office of Management and Budget.

Bozeman received his very own bobblehead as a gift from his doctoral students at the University of Georgia when he left to go to Arizona State University.

“I realize, of course, that my role in helping shape these leaders is a modest one, but that certainly doesn’t keep me from taking pride in my role, especially since almost all of these people have been lifelong friends,” he notes.

Bozeman never imagined while at PBJC that he would go on to accomplish so much.

“I expected I would be a professional baseball player, and if that didn’t work out, then I would go to law school,” he said. “Like most beginning college students, I didn’t really even have much of an idea what university professors do. I figured they would teach about eight hours a day and go home.”

Bozeman played on PBJC’s first baseball team and scored the first run in the new team’s history. That was a thrill, he said, but noted his most significant moment as a student was when he became aware he had no limits.

“I think the major turning point was when I figured out that if I applied myself in graduate school that I could compete effectively with people trained at the finest universities in the world, that I had no limits other than self-imposed.”

Bozeman matriculated to Florida Atlantic University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree. After working for a year as a crime reporter for The Palm Beach Post, he entered graduate school at FAU, earning a Master of Science degree in political science. In 1970, Bozeman entered the doctoral program in political science at Ohio State University, focusing his studies on public policy.

Throughout his educational journey, Bozeman says, beginning at PBJC was a great benefit to him. He also believes that students who assume that they won’t go far in life if they start at a community college are dead wrong.

“My story shows that it does not have to be, but rather it is a self-fulfilling prophecy if people sell themselves short,” says Bozeman. “I had an excellent educational experience at PBJC, which led to a great start on my university education. PBJC helped instill in me the confidence that I could succeed in most anything I wished to do. Even at my advanced age, I still think that!”

Bozeman, now 75, began his first education job as an assistant professor of political science at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“What I learned at Georgia Tech was to adapt to the resources presented in the work environment,” said Bozeman. “The department I was in was developing a degree in science and technology policy, a topic I knew nothing about. I learned from colleagues, doing research with them, and parlayed this early work into a visiting position at the National Science Foundation. I have been specializing in the topic ever since, that is for more than 40 years.”

Bozeman was affiliated with Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs from 1977 to 1993. While at Syracuse, he was the director of the doctoral program (1979-1986) and was the founding director of the Center for Technology and Information Policy. He moved in 1993 to be the first full-time director of the new School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech and was later appointed as Regent’s Professor, the first social scientist to become a Regent’s Professor at Georgia Tech.

In 2006, he moved to the University of Georgia where he became the first holder of the Department of Public Administration and Policy’s Ander Crenshaw Chair in Public Policy.

From an aspiring baseball player to a respected national leader in organization theory and science and technology policy, Bozeman has some points of advice for other aspiring university professors.

“To those who get positions as college professors, be grateful,” he says. “My first job was in construction, literally digging ditches, most of the time in Riviera Beach. Like all jobs, university professors get together and complain. I do, too. But I like to reflect on the fact that the grievances that seem large from close up are incredibly small when we have some perspective. Then I remind myself—and this is literally true—that there has never been a single day that I think that perhaps I should have pursued another line of work. What could be better than autonomy, service and the ability to chart one’s own course in research and writing?”

Out of all of Bozeman’s research and writing projects, he feels especially proud of the book, “Public Values and Public Interest: Counterbalancing Economic Individualism.” It received the Herbert Simon Award for the best book in public administration from the American Political Science Association.

“My primary satisfaction with that book is that it provides some ideas about public policy that are in some ways an antidote to the idea that the best policy approaches are those that maximize individual self-interest and that assume little or no positive role for government,” said Bozeman. He is currently co-authoring a related book with ASU President Michael Crow, considered one of the most innovative thinkers in higher education.​

Bozeman and his wife, Monica Gaughan, have three children and live in Tempe, Ariz. where Dr. Gaughan, a sociologist, is also a faculty member at ASU.

In recognition of Palm Beach State College’s 90th anniversary, the weekly Alumni Spotlight Series showcases the College’s role in preparing generations of graduates to achieve success in myriad careers and give back to their local communities.

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