Certified Learning

By Susan Roberston

Courtesy Photo

Illustration of a business man reaching out for assistance.

Deposit Photos

Kevin Haroulakis considers himself a lifelong learner, and his association with the Naifeh Center for Effective Leadership (NCEL), an agency of the UT Institute for Public Service, has helped him continue on that path.

Haroulakis, a senior director of data administration for the Tennessee Department of Corrections, holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational communications from Middle Tennessee State University and a master’s in public administration from Tennessee State University.

But his relationship with the Naifeh Center started him on another degree at UT Knoxville.

Kevin Haroulakis
Kevin Haroulakis

In 2020, as a state employee, he was selected to participate in the Tennessee Government Management Institute, a joint program between the Naifeh Center and the Tennessee Department of Human Resources.

“I have to sing the praises of the Naifeh Center. Everyone there is amazing,” he says. “In 2020, it was online (because of COVID), and I was blown away with all they were able to do.”

Through his association with the center, he became familiar with its Tennessee Certified Public Manager (CPM) program and knew it would include the first-class curriculum and instruction to which he was accustomed from the Naifeh Center. The program provides an in-depth, competency-based development program for public-sector managers across the state. But it was another benefit of the program that ultimately led him to enroll.

In addition to receiving a national certification at the completion of the program, participants can take advantage of having graduate school credits at either UT Knoxville or UT Chattanooga under their belts. That appealed to Haroulakis, who wanted to pursue a second master’s degree.

“I knew CPM would be a great program, but knowing I would have graduate-credit hours toward my master’s degree prompted me to enroll in CPM,” he says.

He started the certified public manager program in January 2023, and in August he enrolled in UT Knoxville to work toward a master’s in management and human resources offered through the Haslam College of Business.

“I can’t say enough about UT as a whole. They are focused on working with their students,” he says. “Dr. Jackie Jacobs, director of the program, is very hands-on.”

Haroulakis attends class online every Tuesday and Wednesday. He says the course is interactive, and the instructors focus on including everyone.

“The Tennessee Certified Public Manager collaboration with UT Chattanooga and UT Knoxville is an exciting opportunity for our graduates to take advantage of six graduate course credits for their master’s programs,” says Trent Clagg, CPM program manager. “Not only does this enable graduates the ability to utilize their CPM capstone project as an improvement for their agency, but it provides one the ability to use it for professional development by granting them a portion of their graduate degree. It’s a win for certified public manager graduates and a win for their agencies.”

CPM program graduates also can earn credit at UT Martin toward a bachelor’s degree, and veterans’ benefits are eligible to be used to enroll in the program.