Core Faculty Directory

Sara Rinfret

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


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

    Fall 2020 (by appointment) - use this link to set up an appointment.  

    Email (most reliable way to reach me)

    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, public opinion polling, 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 environmental regulations and compliance through the lens of interest group involvement, the role of women, public opinion during the stages of administrative rulemaking.

She has authored more than thirty peer reviewed articles and 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 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). 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.

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)

Field of Study

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