The euphoria over Baruch senior Joselyn Muhleisen (’07) and her Fulbright award had barely subsided when more good news reached the college. Baruch had another Fulbright winner, this one a graduate student. Christopher Bell, a 29-year old Master of Public Administration candidate with a BA from NYU and a deepening interest in post-Soviet Eastern Europe, has also won a Fulbright.
Bell, who as an undergraduate was captain of the Violets wrestling team, will travel to Kiev in the Ukraine to study how local government authorities are going about the business of spending revenues, now that all fiscal policies are no longer directed from above.
He is, says Bell, interested in the question of whether fiscal decentralization is helping to promote democratic institutions. In Kiev, he will be affiliated with the National Academy of Public Administration, a government-run institute where he hopes to develop long-term relationships with some of the country’s future leaders and decision-makers.
Raised in Cooperstown, New York, Bell came to Baruch’s School of Public Affairs in 2005. Prior to enrolling at SPA, he spent 15 months in Russia teaching English and learning Russian. To put himself through graduate school, Bell worked at various jobs, including, at one point, as a driver to U.S. Congressman and mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner. Along the way, he was also awarded a scholarship from the New York State Government Financial Officers Association.
Bell says that while at SPA his political understanding matured. “It’s good to have a quantitative focus,” he says, and thanks to professors such as Sanders Korenman and Gregg Van Ryzen, Bell feels he has acquired one. As someone who is committed to public service—whether locally, in New York City or in Eastern European—Bell is very pleased that he chose Baruch College for his graduate work. “I like the mission of CUNY. It’s been a really good fit for me,” he says. A sentiment no doubt reciprocated at the School of Public Affairs.