Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center


2004 Research Projects


  • Jennifer Munoz '04 of Old Bridge, New Jersey and Wyatt Arthurs '04 of Youngstown, New York worked for the Division of Code Enforcement and Administration of the New York Department of State.  Their project was entitled "Breaking the Codes:  Awareness and Implementation of New York State's New Building Codes."  New York State has recently enacted major revisions of its fire prevention and building codes in an effort to make the codes compatible with national and international standards.  Through surveys and interviews, Wyatt and Jen assessed the awareness of the new codes among local code enforcement officials, the barriers to full implementation of the codes, and the impact of the new codes on actual building projects.
  • Billy Haley '04 of Harrison, New York worked with local officials in Westchester County on a project that became his senior thesis.  Billy studied the effects of emergency medical services (public vs. private, volunteer vs. paid) on the quality and efficiency of those services.
  • Jess Woodward '04 of Tarpon Springs, Florida worked with officials in Washington, D.C., on her project.  She examined the effect of having health insurance on the quality and length of AIDS patients' lives.



2003 Research



  • Elizabeth Fallon '04 of Providence, Rhode Island worked with the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. She performed an analysis of the public policy approach to alcohol and substance abuse as compared to the approach taken to other behavior-related diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.  Are there physiological or psychological reasons for the differences in treatment between the two types of diseases, or is the difference in treatment irrational?
  • Daniel Head '03 of Wellesley, Massachusetts researched the economic, medical, and moral underpinnings of government regulation of boxing, and compared the rules and regulations governing boxing in New York State with those of other states. He worked with the New York State Athletic Commission on this project.
  • Sean McDonough '05 of Floral Park, New York examined the complex system of state grants to small businesses. His sponsor, the Governor's Office for Small Cities, was interested in the economic impact of existing programs.  Sean suggested a new structure for the system to make it more effective and accountable. 


2002 Research



  • Matthew Eng '02 studied wage determination in the local public sector for the Towns of New Hartford and Deerfield.
  • Timothy Fossett '02 and Henry Hornblower '02 conducted a study on rehabilitation of a large residential building (pre-1960s) which focused on retaining the architectural significance of the building while maximizing energy efficiency and the environmental health of the structure.  They worked with the Division of Code Enforcement & Administration for the New York State Department of State.
  • Christina Freyre '02 and Nikie Sarris '02 analyzed Oneida County's "Weed and Seed Program," working with Gene Allen, the program's director.

2001 Research Projects

County compensation plan

Jolyn Sweet analyzed the compensation and benefit plan for employees of Cortland County.  The project included an examination of fairness in policies such as disability leaves, e-mail, Internet usage, maternity leaves, sick days, and weapons.  Jolyn also helped draft a new compensation and benefit plan to be presented to the Cortland County Legislature.

Energy conservation codes

Phoung Nguyen examined the effectiveness of the New York State energy conservation codes for residential buildings.  She interviewed and surveyed building contractors in the state to find out if they are aware of the conservation code, if they comply with it, and if the code really saves energy.  This research project was performed for the New York State Department of State, Building Codes Division.

Club drug use

Jessica McGiff and Pamela Dixon conducted a study entitled "Psychological and Sociological Correlates of Club Drug Use."  They interviewed and surveyed students on several upstate college campuses to find out why some students use club drugs, especially Ecstasy.  Jessica and Pamela worked with the New York State Department of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.

2000 Research Projects

Economic Development Zones in Oneida and Herkimer Counties

by Jennifer Irvine '00 and Kelly McKeown '00

Mohawk Valley EDGE submitted a proposal requesting an analysis of the New York State program designed to assist urban areas in economic distress. This program, known as the Economic Development Zone Program (EDZ) offers special tax credits, reduced utility rates, and special low-interest loans to new or expanding businesses in these designated zones. 

EDGE requested a cost-benefit study of these incentives, including the time and cost necessary for the bookkeeping and completion of forms required by this program.

Jennifer Irvine and Kelly McKeown reviewed this program as their senior project, a requirement to complete their major in Public Policy with Professor Paul Gary Wyckoff. First they reviewed applicable laws regarding the incentives offered by the State. They also reviewed previous studies of the effectiveness of various tax incentives and abatements. They learned that the impact of economic development can vary dramatically based on different demographics, and the complexity of the problem makes it difficult to measure. Additional information was included in a confidential report to the agency.

Clinton Chamber of Commerce Study

by James DiNardo '00
James DiNardo '00 presented the results of his survey of businesses in and around the village of Clinton to members of the community and the Clinton Chamber of Commerce in Spring 2000. This study was completed as part of his major in Public Policy.

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce

The local Chamber of Commerce was interested in building upon the unique qualities of Clinton, a small town with large variety of services for its size. These include a complete public school system, a parochial school and a college, health services, stores, art center, restaurants and recreational facilities. 

James DiNardo surveyed the goods and services available, and determined what important ones might be lacking. He also surveyed shopping, work and commuting patterns. He later presented recommendations for community action at a public forum held in the public school.


1999 Research Projects

Gravel Mining in Central New York

by Peter Merkel '99

A study conducted for the Cayuga County Planning Department.

Long-term Welfare Dependency in Oneida County

by Chris Plecs '99 and Wendy Worms '99

A study conducted for Oneida County Human Services.

Measuring Outcomes and Effectiveness of In-Home Community-Based Long-Term Care Services for the Elderly

by Cara Rosenberg '99

A study conducted for the New York State Office for Aging

Good Intentions, Difficult Choices, Questionable Outcomes :  A study of Emergency Food Distribution in Utica, New York

by David Gaynes

A study conducted for the United Way of Greater Utica.


1998 Research Projects

Striving for Excellence

by Charles Waterman and Keith Wandtke

Various means have been suggested to improve the academic achievement of high school students; however, proving the efficacy of these plans is difficult. In a study commissioned by the New York State Department of Education, Charles and Keith focused on one such idea, the use of standardized "high-stakes" testing and what effect this might have on students, teachers and schools. 

Culture change in New York State welfare:

by Lisa McKinney, SUNY Institute of Technology, Utica-Rome; Christopher Plecs ' 99 Hamilton College; Kimberly Torres '97, research coordinator, Hamilton College

First call for help:

by Pat Irving '98 and Andrew Eakin '98

Poverty, the home environment and student achievement:

by Katy Pollock '98

Student achievement and the concentration of poverty:

by Ani Drescher '00

Highway Development:

by Sean Fay '98 and Christopher Kelly '98

Griffiss Business and Technology Potential Uses
: A cost benefit study for Oneida County EDGE
by Jamie I. Harris '98 and Suraj Kunchala '98

1997 Research Projects

Using Teleconferencing for Court Appearances

Andrew Donehower and Andrew Edelson

The New York State Division for Youth is responsible for housing and educating hundreds of troubled youth in New York State. On average, each youth is required to appear in Family Court twice a year. When travel and security costs are combined, this amounts to a very significant expense for the Division. Andrew and Andrew analyzed the feasibility of using videoconferencing instead of "live" court appearances for youth in the Division's care.

Andrew and Andrew did a thorough cost-benefit analysis of the issue, examining and quantifying:

* the costs of installing videoconferencing equipment in the Division's facilities and in Family Courts.

* the likelihood of acceptance by judges and lawyers

* the size of expected savings on transportation and security costs.

They also explored other possible uses of the proposed video conferencing network for the Division for Youth, including medical care, education, and administrative meetings.

Evaluation of New York's Early Intervention Program

Adam Hodges, Jonathan Lent, and David Sylofski

The goal of this Senior Project was to determine what inefficiencies in New York State's early intervention program might be contributing to the high program cost, and to recommend improvements to the existing program. Adam, Jonathan, and David focused on administrative, design, and funding issues.

New York State expenditures for early intervention programs for infants and toddlers average twice as much per child as compared to other states. Those qualifying for early intervention are young children with developmental delays (as measured by the appropriate diagnostic instruments) in one or more of the following areas: cognitive, physical, language and speech, or psychosocial development, or those having been diagnosed with a condition that has a high probability of resulting in a delay of development.

The students concluded that education, particularly of parents, is a major concern; and recommended more training regarding basic health and child rearing. For example, educating pregnant women about the impact of substance abuse on the future health of child, and also including fathers in parental education programs were improvements suggested.

They also recommended looking at models of programs followed in other states, i.e. Washington State and wisconsin. In the first case, state money is allotted to counties which demonstrate the greatest need and most cost-effective methods. In the case of Wisconsin, funds are directed to areas of greatest need.

Analysis of federal mass transit benefits

Matthew Engel

This research project for the New York State Department of Transportation included a study of the allocation of federal funds to states for transportation and the environmental impact of various funding decisions. Matthew specifically looked at the possible link of various transportation modes with carbon monoxide levels.

Though the effect of federal funding for mass transit on carbon monoxide emissions was inconclusive in the study, Matthew cited other studies that demonstrate the dangers of the current high level of vehicle usage and thus the need for alternate solutions. Also, economic problems are created by road congestion during peak traffic hours. Thus mass transit has the potential of reducing problems of pollution, ozone depletion and traffic snarls.

1996 Research Projects

Bringing the Internet to Education

Kendall Brook '96 and Matthew Areman '96

The use of the Internet for educational purposes was studied by Kendall and Matt in a project commissioned by the New York State Department of Education. They first surveyed current applications of the Internet in the classroom, and implications for the future. The impact of regulations and the debate over censorship were also considered. They concluded that "every facet of the educational process is enhanced when technology like the Internet is incorporated."

Practicing what they preached in an innovative way, Kendall and Matt organized a videoconference with a group of high school teachers and administrators in the village of Hamilton, which is 20 miles south of Hamilton College. Using the Internet and CUSeeMe software developed at Cornell University, they conducted a workshop and interactively discussed the advantages of the Internet.

BOCES Consolidation: A Cost-Benefit Analysis
Elisa Coons '96 and Eleanne Van Vliet'96

Established in 1948, the Board of Cooperative Educational Services was created to provide certain shared facilities and services to school districts throughout New York State. An integral part of the State's educational system, BOCES provides services which include occupational education, special education and adult learning. The State Education Department commissioned this study to determine the optimum size of these districts to best meet the needs of the component schools. Eleanne and Elisa undertook a comprehensive survey of three district consolidations to determine if needs were being met in terms of course offerings and other services. They also analyzed the cost savings from consolidation.

Comprehensive Plan and Vision of the Future for the Town of Marshall, New York

Ezra Ripple '96 and James White '96

Officials in the small, rural town of Marshall recognized that a comprehensive plan was needed to cope with the closing of a dairy plant, the decline in the agricultural industry and increasing tax burdens. Thus they commissioned Ezra and James to study the situation and make recommendations. To understand the attitudes and feelings of townspeople, these Public Policy majors generated a survey which was mailed to 450 residents.

Based on compiled responses as well as a study of similar communities, Ezra and James made a number of recommendations. These included: 1) forming a number of specific committees to encourage citizen participation, 2) fostering home-based businesses by softening the zoning restrictions, 3) improving recreational facilities, 4) preserving the aesthetic beauty and rural nature of the area through a restoration project, and 5) marketing an improved hike and bike trail to residents in neighboring communities.

1995 Research Projects

Student mobility in New York State

Brian Hunt '95 and Elizabeth Macartney '95

Children changing schools frequently has become a major problem, particularly in urban areas. Thus the New York State Education Department asked Brian Hunt ('95) and Elizabeth (Libby) Macartney ('95) to assess the multiple effects of these changes.

In their "Student Mobility Report" they outlined the impact of frequent moves. These range from the difficulty of forming new friends to a lag in transfer of records. Brian and Libby cited case studies showing much lower test scores on both reading and math by the mobile group compared to the stable students. Successful programs at a variety of city schools were studied, such as the "Rochester Case Study." The approaches used here included helping parents to stay in one location through settling landlord disputes and direct payment of rent checks by the Department of Social Services. A school spirit program encouraged parent involvement through awards and prizes by local businesses.

Brian and Libby made four basic recommendations: (1) an electronic transfer system for student records; (2) educating teachers, school administrators and the general public about the adverse effects of constantly switching schools; (3) implementing ways to ease acceptance at a new school such as a "new student" counselor, a New Faces Club, and a school spirit program; and (4) emphasizing achievement through a tutoring resource room and busing to the original school for those who move mid-year. They also stressed the importance of carefully evaluating any new strategies to assess their effectiveness.

 Town of Paris Project
John Freedman '95 and Christopher Snyder '95

John Freedman '95 and Christopher Snyder '95 undertook the monumental task of "Comprehensive Planning for the Town of Paris, New York." Their assignment required a plan for growth which would maintain a balance with town services needed, environmental concerns and a reasonable tax base.

Taken into consideration were such things as: citizen participation, available housing, utilities, recreational facilities, schools, transportation, population, fire and police protection. Topography, zoning, water availability and traffic were all studied in assessing the area for future development. John and Chris were also concerned with maintaining the natural beauty of the town of Paris, which has magnificent views, wetlands, and wooded sections.

Their recommendations included: (1) small tract residential development in one quadrant, (2) future businesses built near existing services, (3) some commercial buildings such as nursing homes or managed care facilities, (4) collaboration with the neighboring community of Clayville, (5) planned open spaces using "transfer of development rights" to maintain farm land, and (6) encouraging home occupations through liberalized zoning.


1994 Research Projects

Feasibility of Airport Privatization: Hancock International Airport

by Mark Callahan and Anne Iverson

The City of Syracuse, in an effort to deal with a large budget deficit, considered privatization of the airport as a means of increasing revenue and saving money. Mark and Anne investigated the benefits of privatization as well as the obstacles. They were given first-class tours of the facilities and a wealth of information. They conducted a cost-benefit analysis which required study of FAA and New York State regulations, deed restrictions and use agreements with the various airlines serviced by the airport. They also studied the situation in other municipalities, such as Albany County, New York, Los Angeles International and Baltimore/Washington International. Their thesis earned them honors at commencement.

Cost-Benefit Analysis for Woods Road Business Park in the Town of New Hartford

by Stephen Hess and Kyle Keogh
The trend toward business migration to the suburbs was an impetus for the Town of New Hartford to investigate the feasibility of building a business park within their township. The town planners entered into a formalized agreement with Stephen and Kyle for completion of a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of such a project, following a proscribed timetable.

A detailed study was undertaken of costs in terms of services, land acquisition, environmental impact and marketing. Various sites were investigated. The benefits in terms of number of jobs generated, general income effects, direct tax revenue, population growth and effects on property valuations were researched. Financing alternatives and political feasibility were also considered.
An analysis of the Route 7 corridor
A study for the NYS Department of Education
A study for the NYS Department of Education
Cost-benefit Analysis of a Comprehensive Information and Referral Service for Oneida and Herkimer County
The experiences of welfare professionals and clients