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From the Chair

Submitted by Arts & Sciences Web Team on May 14, 2014 - 8:00am
Peter May
Peter May

Political Science: Continued Excellence

As we near the end of another academic year, we are reminded how the end of a year often marks transitions of one kind or another. This newsletter highlights some of these along with features about our department's history, the Washington Center D.C. internship program, our highly successful political theory graduate program, and a staff spotlight of Susanne Recordon our Graduate Program Assistant.

One positive force for change in the academic world is the hiring of new faculty. We were fortunate this year to search for two faculty positions. Jeffrey Arnold, currently an instructor at Emory University, will be joining us and the Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences as an assistant professor for our position in political methodology. Megan Francis, currently an assistant professor at Pepperdine University, will be joining us as an assistant professor for our position in Inequality and Social Justice. Both will be profiled in the next E-Newsletter.

Both Matt Barreto and Jon Mercer have been promoted as full professors effective this fall. Jim Caporaso will be receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award of the European Studies Association at their meeting in 2015, an award that recognizes his many contributions to the field. Michael McCann has received an Honorable Mention for the 2014 UW Marsha Landolt Graduate Mentoring Award – the top award for graduate mentoring in the university. The numerous accomplishments of other faculty in authoring new books, articles and chapters, undertaking innovative research across the globe, and contributing to public debate are highlighted in the news section on the front page of the department's website.

Among key transitions highlighted in this newsletter is the passing of Professor Robert Dahl a 1936 BA from our department who went on to become one of the most influential political scientists of any generation. Also featured is Margaret Levi's departure after 40 years in the department to assume the Directorship of the Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. And, we profile Ellis Goldberg upon his retirement after nearly 30 years at the UW and the department.

The end of this academic year also brings a transition for the department chair. I am leaving this role at the end of June after four years at which time George Lovell will assume the role. (He is profiled in this newsletter.)  While many of my days as chair have been consumed by the minutia of the university bureaucracy, I have been fortunate to be part of a number of very positive developments in the department. Chief among these have been a number of initiatives that would not have been possible without the generosity of a number of our alumni and friends. Dr. Gary and Susan Duck established an innovative undergraduate scholarship to allow a deserving advanced undergraduate to complete his or her degree in a more timely fashion. They also have been key supporters for a new research center in environmental politics. Dr. Richard B. Wesley has endowed two graduate fellowships and provided additional support to various graduate programs in the department. Dr. Dennis and Diana Durden have provided continued support for graduate students making it possible for several to attend workshops addressing cutting-edge methods.

Many others who have contributed to the Bone, Kaplan, Levi, May, Matthews and Olson endowments have helped fund graduate and undergraduate research grants or fellowships. These funds have been vital in sparking new activities for undergraduates and new research directions and dissertation work for graduate students. Contributions to the Stuart and Lee Scheingold Endowment for Social Justice have established the foundation for new and exciting faculty research in social justice. The generous benefactors of the Severyns-Ravenholt Endowment have made it possible to bring notable intellectuals to campus as part of the University of Washington International Security Colloquium and the Severyns-Ravenholt Seminar in Comparative Politics. Finally, the many contributors to the Friends of Political Science have added to the vitality of the department in helping with faculty support, student activities, workshops and seminars, and other aspects of our program.

One of the pleasures of being chair of this department has been the opportunity to meet or correspond with many alumni and friends of the department. I have been struck by the diverse experiences of our alumni—showing a political science degree can be a portal to a range of careers. It is also reassuring to hear many cite aspects of their undergraduate experience as pivotal in their lives. I greatly appreciate the commitment and generosity of our alumni and friends who continue to make a real difference in the quality of our department.

I have also valued the opportunity to work with talented and capable professional staff and to see the day-to-day contributions of all of our staff. We are fortunate to have such a talented and dedicated group of individuals who really do care about our department and who contribute in untold ways to our excellence. I thank them for their efforts and support for me as chair.

With appreciation,
Peter May

Peter J. May
Professor and Chair

Peter J. May is the Donald R. Matthews Distinguished Professor of American Politics.  He has been at the UW since 1979 and has been department chair since July 2010.

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