Core Faculty Directory

Sara Rinfret

Professor & Chair, Department of PA & Policy, MPA Director, Academic Director, Montana NEW Leadership


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

    Spring 2021  - use this link to set up an appointment for my regularly scheduled office hours listed in our course syllabi or if these don't work, I have times throughout the week during and after normal work hours to best meet your needs. Look forward to meeting with you.

    Email (most reliable way to reach me)

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

Personal Summary

Sara Rinfret is a public administration and policy generalist, teaching courses on regulatory policy, environmental policy, public policy, public opinion & polling (qualitative or quantitative methods), human resource management, organization behavior, and public administration. She is the Chairwoman for the Department of Public Administration & Policy and Director for the Master of Public Administration Program. Her main area of research is focused on policy creation and implementation (environmental policy, regulations, and compliance) and the scholarship of teaching and learning. Much of her policy research examines the role of interest group participation, women, or public opinion during the stages of administrative rulemaking at the state, federal, or international level. Her scholarship of teaching and learning research advances the role of innovation for online and in-person coursework. 

She has authored more than thirty peer reviewed articles and co-authored six 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 Who Makes Environmental Policy (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 and the 2020 recipient of the Mike Malone MT Educator of the Year Award. She served as a faculty fellow for the University of Montana's Women's Leadership Initiative (2019), focusing with her colleagues on issues of workplace equity. For 2020-2021, she serves as the chair for small programs with NASPAA in addition to co-chairing the University of Montana's Graduate Council and a member of the Executive Council of Faculty Senate. Fall 2020 she was elected to NASPAA's Executive Council for a three-year term.

Summer 2019 she helped to create the Department of Public Administration and Policy's annual Public Service Training Academy. Each year, new trainings are offered for current students and public and nonprofit sector employees across the nation. 

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 (528); Introduction to Public Service (NPAD 166), Independent Study (596); Human Resource Management (522); Public Policymaking (531); Policy Analyis (503); Introduction to Public Service (NPAD 166); Internship (598)

Field of Study

Regulatory policy, American politics, interest groups, environmental policy, public policy, public administration, state and local government, public opinion/polling, qualitative and quantitative research methods