Core Faculty Directory

Sara Rinfret

Professor & Chair, Department of PA & Policy, MPA Director


  • Office: Law 146 (remote due to COVID 19)
  • Email:
  • Office Hours:

    Summer 2020 (by appointment) - send an email to set up an appointment. 


    Phone: 406-243-4702 (goes to voicemail due to COVID-19)

Personal Summary

Sara Rinfret teaches courses on regulatory policy, environmental policy, state and local government, public policy, and public administration. She is the Chair of the Department of Public Administration & Policy and Director for the Master of Public Administration Program. Her main area of research is focused on environmental regulations. More specifically, she is interested in the interactions between agencies and interest groups during the stages of environmental rulemaking at the federal and state level. To date, her work has been published in Society and Natural Resources, Environmental Politics, Review of Policy Research, Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, PS: Political Science and Politics, Public Administration Quarterly, and the Oxford Handbook of U.S. Environmental Policy, to name a few. 

She has co-authored five books: The Lilliputians of Environmental Regulation: The Perspective of State Regulators (Routledge); U.S. Environmental Policy in Action (Palgrave) (co-written with Michelle Pautz); Public Policy: A Concise Introduction (CQ Press, with Michelle Pautz and Denise Scheberle), the Environmental Case (CQ Press, with Judith Layzer), and Beyond Congress: Environmental Regulations and Rulemaking (Temple University Press, forthcoming). She is a recipient of the Fulbright Specialist Program in public administration and studied with scholars at the University of Aarhus (Denmark) in 2016. In 2018, she was selected by UM student alumni as the "most inspirational teacher" of the year. She was nominated and selected for NASPAA Next, an institute for the future of public affairs education, Fall 2018. She serves as a faculty fellow for the University of Montana's Women's Leadership Initiative (2019).

Her MPA is from Ohio State University's John Glenn School of Public Affairs and a Ph.D. in political science from Northern Arizona University.


Northern Arizona University, Ph.D.
The Ohio State University, MPA
Otterbein College, BA

Courses Taught

Public Administration (501); Organizational Theory (504); Environmental Governance (595); Women, Policy & Public Administration (531); Introduction to Public Service (NPAD 191), Independent Study (596); Human Resource Management (522); Public Policymaking (528)

Field of Study

Regulatory policy, American politics, interest groups, environmental policy, public policy, public administration, state and local government