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Looking Behind the Bill: The 2024 Cornia Award Winner

The Romney Institute of Public Service and Ethics at the BYU Marriott School of Business honored Amanda Rutherford, a professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University and a scholar in the field of public administration, with the 2024 Gary C. Cornia Award.

This award is presented in honor of former Romney Institute director and BYU Marriott School of Business dean, Gary C. Cornia, to recognize exemplary scholars in the field of public administration. Presented with the award at a luncheon held in February, Rutherford was recognized for her years of research on educational policy and equity in government.

A professional photo of a woman around 40 with straight brown hair, thin square glasses, wearing a suit and a white shirt. She is sitting on a chair and smiling into the camera.
Amanda Rutherford is the 2024 Cornia Award winner.
Photo courtesy of Amanda Rutherford.

With over a decade of experience in academia and a PhD in political science from Texas A&M, Rutherford brings a unique approach to the study of public administration. “As a political scientist, I think a lot about the people who make decisions,” she says. "It's one thing to say, ‘I know who crafts policy.’ I think it's an entirely different and more interesting story to talk about what happens to a policy once it is signed. The policymakers are not the ones who say, ‘how do we make it happen?’”

As Rutherford studies educational policies and institutions, she unpacks how laws are implemented into school systems and how they affect students. “There are a lot of people who bring policy to life, for better and for worse,” she says.

Rutherford has a diverse array of research interests, including political control, performance accountability, bureaucratic careers, and executive decision-making. Her most recent book, Race and Public Administration, is one of many projects she has undertaken to examine the role of race, equity, and representation within the bureaucracy. Her research has been featured in a variety of journals including The American Political Science Review, The American Journal of Political Science, Public Administration Review, and The Journal of Behavioral Public Administration.

Rutherford teaches introductory classes for undergraduate, graduate, and PhD students at Indiana University (IU). As an associate professor, she splits her time between research and teaching and says that these two responsibilities complement each other in invaluable ways. “I'm one of the first public administration professors these students meet at each level,” Rutherford says. “With students, I’m integrating my research into teaching and also learning from students who come to the classroom from different backgrounds and experiences. They bring a refreshing new perspective into the field.”

In November 2023, Rutherford worked alongside two students to publish the report, “US School-Based Law Enforcement,” which examined survey responses from security officers in the US education system. This report, sponsored by the IU Racial Justice Research Fund, gathered statistics and data about the training standards and roles of school-based law enforcement, which they hope will help policymakers standardize student safety in the future.

With nine years of teaching under her belt, Rutherford has forged professional relationships with students and staff that reach across universities. At the award ceremony, Rutherford joked, “There are a lot of Indiana graduates of some sort in the room. I can't take credit for all of them, but I’ll take credit for some.”

A man and a woman stand facing each other. The man is gesturing to himself and holds both a picture frame and a blue paper bag. The woman is listening to him speak and smiling politely. They stand in front of a wooden paneled wall and a white screen. The woman is resting a hand on the back of low blue, white and brown chairs with a honeycomb design.
Amanda Rutherford receiving the 2024 Cornia Award at the annual award luncheon.
Photo courtesy of Heather Chewning

Gathering at BYU brought together a reunion of old friends and long-time colleagues to celebrate Rutherford’s work in the field. “It really is full circle,” Rutherford says. “There are people who I have looked up to here working alongside people who I've mentored. How special is that?”

The BYU Marriott School of Business aspires to transform the world through Christlike leadership by developing leaders of faith, intellect, and character. Named for benefactors J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott, the school is located at Brigham Young University. BYU Marriott has four graduate and nine undergraduate programs with an enrollment of approximately 3,800 students.


Written by Shayauna Putnam