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    Caroline Rapking ’82 M.P.A. Looks to Carry on Tradition of Maxwell Quality

    June 8, 2011

    Caroline Rapking ’82 M.P.A.After 28-plus years of traveling the globe—much of the time ensuring that all levels of government improve their efficiency and effectiveness through information technology—Caroline Rapking still credits her Maxwell School experience as integral to her success.

    “My M.P.A. in public finance, plus being one of the first Maxwell graduates to have taken IT courses there, led me to be a very valuable member of the burgeoning IT consulting world,” says Rapking. “I was able to hit the ground running, and ended up traveling throughout the United States and then the world. I still enjoy what I do for a living, and I feel like I’ve actually helped many governments deliver better value for the taxpayers to whom they are accountable. That’s the Maxwell experience for me!”

    While she was a Maxwell student, Rapking saw firsthand the importance of exceptional faculty. As a graduate assistant to Dr. “Bunny” Jump and through her work in the dean’s office during Dr. Guthrie Birkhead’s tenure, she learned about the challenges of continuous learning for faculty. “I remember them struggling to allocate some small pools of discretionary money, having received numerous worthy requests from faculty whose research and continuing education would be enhanced if the funds were made available. There was never enough money, and talented faculty were forced to put certain aspects of their education and research on hold.”

    Years later, while serving on the Maxwell Advisory Board, Rapking heard former deans Palmer and Wallerstein raise similar issues related to the attraction and retention of faculty. “These experiences inspired me to establish the Rapking Faculty Support Fund to provide current and future Maxwell deans a “pot of money” to award to faculty in need of additional resources to support their research and continued education. It is purposely very flexible and not prescriptive, so the current dean can make decisions that are best for the Maxwell School at that time.”

    Preserving a high level of educational quality for future generations is important to Rapking. “I give to the Maxwell School because I received a very high-quality, highly valuable education there, and I have the means to ensure that the school is able to continue this tradition,” she explains. “While high-quality education depends on a number of factors, certainly one of the most important is the ability to attract and retain outstanding faculty. I wanted to establish a fund that would be available to Maxwell faculty and enhance their ability to continue their education and research by attending conferences, funding portions of individual research through special resources, or other smaller but critical activities.”

    Rapking’s Maxwell connections have added another dimension to both her personal and professional experiences. She describes one particularly rewarding opportunity: “In 2002, while serving on the Maxwell Advisory Board, I met John Chapple, the former chair of the SU Board of Trustees, who was, at the time, CEO of Nextel Partners. We had a lot in common, since neither of us was afraid to speak our mind. Little did I know that John really appreciated that aspect of my personality. So he asked me to serve on the Nextel Partners board of directors, which was one of the most exciting, most educational experiences of my life.” As a member of the Nextel board, Rapking served on several committees, and chaired the Nominating Committee. She left the board in July 2006 when Sprint/Nextel bought Nextel Partners and the board was dissolved.

    Currently, Rapking is vice president for the Global Public Sector of CGI Group Inc., one of the largest independent information technology and business process services firms in the world. Prior to taking the lead for the Global Public Sector activities, she was responsible for the same work for the U.S. State and Local Industry group.

    Since joining CGI in 1983, Rapking has worked exclusively with many of CGI’s largest state and local government clients in designing and implementing technology and business solutions to transform government management and service delivery. In addition, she has led joint go-to-market and planning efforts for the U.S State and Local, U.S. Federal, and European Public Sector groups, and was heavily involved in the effort to locate the CGI Center of Excellence in Software Development in Russell County, Virginia, which brought more than 400 new jobs to that rural area.

    Rapking remains a longstanding member of the Maxwell Advisory Board and, in 2010, was appointed to the board of trustees of West Virginia Wesleyan College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree, and serves on the Advancement Council. In 2007, she was appointed to the Virginia Community College Education Foundation, where she serves on the Finance and Investments Committee.

    Rapking’s community and industry involvement includes business, industry, health-related associations, including membership in the National Capital Area Corporate Council of the American Cancer Society. She is also active in a number of public sector organizations and boards, including TechAmerica; the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers, and Treasurers; and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.

    When asked about the strength of the alumni network in the Washington, DC, area, Rapking says it’s tough to go into any government or private sector organization in the D.C. area without finding SU alumni. “We are part of the DC ‘DNA,’” she says, “largely because of the education and experience we received at SU. SU grads have a tremendous influence and impact on our national policy, defense programs, local sports, corporate board rooms, philanthropic organizations, educational institutions, and more.”

    Rapking feels that alumni are key to maintaining that influence. “We need to protect our investment in the region now, as well as help provide future generations with the ability to maintain and enhance such a positive impact and deep involvement in our region. An important and simple way to achieve that is by supporting The Campaign for Syracuse University.”