Andrew Finzen

Andrew Finzen

City Manager, City of Goodland
Goodland, KS
B.A. Political Science and Philosophy, 2013, M.P.A., 2015

"Don't be afraid to think bigger. USD is training you to be a citizen of the world, and that might mean taking you out of your comfort zone to places and experiences that you never expected."

Q&A with Andrew:

Describe your current educational or professional pursuits.

My educational and professional pursuits both led me to the public sector. I received my B.A. in political science and philosophy in 2013 and my master of public administration degree in 2015. Ten days after graduation, I was sworn in as the city manager of Elephant Butte, New Mexico – a small desert town 1,000 miles away from Vermillion and two hours north of the United States-Mexico border. In 2017, I became the city manager of Goodland, Kansas, where I still serve today. I oversee a staff of 60 employees and an annual budget of $16 million. More importantly, I get to make positive and lasting changes to my community by providing essential services and infrastructure to citizens.

How did your USD experience influence your career path?

My USD experience played an essential role in influencing my career path and the person I am today. USD was close to my hometown of Sioux City, Iowa and was the perfect size for what I wanted a college campus to be: small enough that I didn't feel inconsequential yet large enough to allow me to explore and pursue my interests. I was constantly put in classrooms with professors who were passionate about their fields and sage enough to give me guidance. While I had always been interested in federal politics, before coming to USD I had never given much consideration toward local government. In fact, before going to college I thought my career path would take me toward being a lawyer. However, through my time at USD, I was able to crystallize what I wanted to get out of a career and ultimately found a niche that has brought me significant success and happiness. The political science and public administration programs at USD are top-notch, and I had a great graduate internship with the City of South Sioux City, Nebraska to supplement my coursework. While no education can prepare you entirely for the chaos of the real world, USD gave me a solid foundation and the tools to further growth and development.

Tell us about your proudest achievement.

My proudest achievement would have to be the first time I was appointed as a city manager. An appointment in local government administration is so much more grueling and public than its private sector counterpart. You must gain the trust and acceptance of elected officials who often have different takes on leadership and what the future of their community should look like. Trying to step into a senior management role directly out of college can be a tough sell, and the field is replete with seasoned veterans toting years of experience with them. I felt so vindicated and proud when I landed my first job in New Mexico, and all the wonderful experiences I’ve had since then stemmed from that initial victory.

What was your USD experience like? Were you involved in any campus organizations or activities?

I had a fantastic experience at USD, starting as an undergraduate student through receiving my master's degree in Vermillion. Greek Life heavily influenced my college experience as president and alumni chairman of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, where I was privileged to build lasting friendships which still impact my life today. I was a news writer for The Volante, a senator on the Student Government Association, and participated in various student groups, including Political Science League, Hope for Africa, Philosophy Club, and Dance Marathon/Dakotathon.

© 2017 University of South Dakota | 1110 North Dakota Street, Vermillion, SD 57069 | 800-521-3575 | alumni@usdalumni.org