John Webber

John WebberCurrent Location: Rochester, IL
Hometown: Mexico, MO

UIS Degree: M.P.A. 2002 (Public Administration)
Other Degree: B.J., University of Missouri School of Journalism

Current Position
Recently retired from the Illinois Department of Transportation after serving as Assistant to the Secretary for Strategic Management (1999-2010) and Director of Communications (2010-14).

Career Highlights
“During my first decade or so at IDOT, I was privileged to serve as program manager for an initiative to establish a long-range operational strategy and performance management system, which was accomplished and institutionalized between 2000 and 2011, including an initiative to bring the agency into compliance with the ISO 9001 international standards for quality management. IDOT became the first DOT in the nation and the first state agency in Illinois to achieve this widely recognized standard, and the effort led to numerous and continuing quality improvements at IDOT, including the move to all-electronic recordkeeping and document management, a reliable and consistent performance reporting system, along with improved management of workloads and training through process improvements throughout the department to help offset the loss of about 25 percent of IDOT staff from 2002 through 2012, with no significant service reductions (IDOT absorbed a total decrease of more than 1,500 permanent full-time employees over 10 years).”

Memories of SSU/UIS
“I think my most significant moments at UIS came from being asked by Dean Wassenberg to become an adjunct instructor after my graduation. I developed and taught an online course on Program Implementation from 2006-2012, and helped prepare more than 200 graduate students for effective careers in public sector implementation during that time. My teaching work also helped me stay on my game at IDOT, as students asked excellent and challenging questions and often helped me rethink positions and strategies as changes occurred or led to other changes in public administration management. So, as I taught them, they helped me adjust my daily work to reflect and incorporate new ideas and changing attitudes.”

How did UIS change or prepare you?
“My coursework in the MPA program at UIS really helped me set the stage for the quality improvement project at IDOT, giving me the background in theory and practice to plan and execute a game-changing strategic management initiative at IDOT. It was like having a real-life laboratory in public administration in which I could immediately apply the theories and practices I learned at UIS, and by attaining the degree at night and on weekends while working full-time at IDOT, I could see the results of my graduate education almost immediately.”

Historical Idol 
“As a lifelong student of history, I continue to be awed and inspired by the leadership and dedication of George Washington for his part in crafting the beauty and simplicity of the independent society and system we still live in. Washington set a high bar for the way public sector leaders should conduct themselves, and few, it seems, can live up to his standards.”

Posted on July 22, 2014