Hamline News

Building Relationships for Career and Community: Mitchell Berg PhD ’19

Photo of Mitchell Berg

Mitchell Berg’s doctorate is pushing his career—and the communities he serves—to new heights.

After more than a decade as a city administrator, Berg PhD ’19 wanted to expand his skills while exploring the possibility of a transition to academia. He knew he wanted a Minnesota-based, in-person degree, and he’d heard positive things about Hamline’s program from colleagues who attended. Hamline’s PhD in Management and Public Service was a natural fit.

Berg had spent years as the city administrator of Mahnomen, a northwestern Minnesota city unique for its location within the White Earth Reservation. It’s among a small number of cities of its size fully within a reservation in the country, according to Berg.

This is where Hamline’s PhD fit: the program grew his relationship-building skills, which is vital for ensuring that tribal, city, and county governments can work together (also the subject of Berg’s dissertation).

Initially, many of Berg’s classmates came from state government or nonprofit backgrounds, not local government. This created a variety of perspectives within the group—a diversity which turned out to be another perk.

“Having folks from different backgrounds gave me a uniquely broader perspective,” said Berg. “Before, I was well-versed in connecting regionally with different agencies. This program has really allowed me to go beyond that at a state and national level.”

It’s helped Berg, in turn, help his community. During his time as Mahnomen’s city administrator, Berg oversaw the influx of $50 million in economic development funds, with more in grant money. These funds created new economic opportunities for the city and tribal government.

Now, Berg has taken on new opportunities of his own. In June, he left his role as city administrator to join the University of Minnesota Crookston’s Veden Center for Rural Economic Development as the organization’s new associate director. The role is a natural progression of his Hamline education, he said.

“I’m looking forward to utilizing the knowledge I gained from Hamline,” said Berg. “It’s about knowing how to build better relationships. Having those skillsets from being in a cohort with my fellow doctorate students has been really beneficial.”

Learn more about Hamline’s PhD in Management and Public Service at hamline.edu/business/phd-management.

Written by Anne Kopas
June 7, 2021