Vision and Mission

History of the School

The Department of Public Administration at the University of Pretoria was established as early as 1965. The founding department had initially focused on the training of senior government officials who had good experience in the public service and had systematically moved up the ranks.

Although the Department underwent a number of changes during the course of its history (re-established in 1982), the biggest change came about in 1992 when Prof Christopher Thornhill, who was Head of the Department at that time, was asked to establish the School of Public Management and Administration (SPMA) at the University of Pretoria. This marked the end of the Department of Public Administration and heralded the start of a new era for the SPMA.

When South Africa’s new democratic government came into power in 1994, the public service changed. People from different backgrounds, who had previously been excluded from acquiring experience of the public service, took up their rightful places and were appointed to senior positions in government. This required a much broader type of training compared to that offered by the former Department of Public Administration. The establishment of the SPMA provided the necessary scope to present programmes to train the country’s new public service officials and senior managers. Since its establishment, the SPMA has assumed a strategic and significant role in research, scholarship, teaching and learning as well as community engagement.


To be the leader in creating and strengthening capacity by preparing individuals to be competent, knowledgeable, effective and responsive in their ranges of roles as professionals committed to their careers in the public service, government, non-governmental-  and  international organisations or the private sector.


As a School situated within a research-intensive university, the SPMA is committed to producing and developing public administration and management practitioners and scholars through excellence in research, teaching and learning as well as curricular and non-curricular community engagement initiatives.

Value statement

The SPMA believes in:

  i. Pursuing recognition and excellence in the focus areas of the SPMA namely:

  • Theory and Practice of Public Administration and Management
  • Public Policy Studies
  • Public Sector Organisational Studies
  • Public Sector Financial Management
  • Public Sector Human Resource Management
  • Public Sector Leadership
  • Intergovernmental Relations and Cooperative Government
  • Local Government and Administration
  • Ethics in the Public Sector
  • Teaching and Learning of Public Administration
  1. Undertaking high quality evidence-based research and scholarship that is relevant locally, regionally and globally.
  1. Collaborating with institutions in the public and private sectors, non-governmental organisations as well as international institutions through dialogue and the sharing of best practices so as to become a leader in the advancement of knowledge and practice of Public Administration and Management.
  1. Advancing academic citizenship though dedicated service to the greater community and the profession by providing workable solutions and global perspectives to current public administration and management challenges.


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