From the Chair

George Lovell
George Lovell, Chair of Political Science

Award Winning Excellence

by George Lovell, Department Chair

As the new Chair of the Department of Political Science, it is a pleasure to report news from the department to our alumni and friends. This edition of the newsletter provides information about some important achievements, the arrival of two new members of our faculty, the launch of an innovative research center, and the latest winner of our Distinguished Alumni Award.

I am lucky to be taking the position of chair at a time when our department is thriving.  One clear indication of our success is that members of our department won a remarkable number of major awards and national recognitions at recent meetings of the American Political Science Association and other social science organizations.  Three books by our faculty won prestigious awards as the best book in their field:  Prof. Christopher Adolph’s Bankers, Bureaucrats, and Central Bank Politics, a path-breaking study of how central bankers make policy choices;Prof. Margaret Levi and former graduate student John Ahlquist’s In The Interests of Others, a study of leadership and socially minded activism in organizations; and Prof. Chris Parker and Prof. Matt Barreto’s Change They Can’t Believe In, a study comparing today’s Tea Party movement to prior forms of conservative activism.  Prof. John Mercer won a best article award for a study of emotion and strategy in the Korean War, and graduate student Milli Lake won a best fieldwork award for her research in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Prof. Victor Menaldo won an award for being the best article reviewer for the top journal in his field.  Two former graduate students who have gone on to successful careers as professors also won best article awards: Tracy Sulkin and Tamir Moustafa.   

Other major awards recognized service across a long career. Professor Emeritus Margaret Levi won an award recognizing her large body of influential scholarship, Prof. James Caporaso and Adjunct Prof. Patricia Moy won lifetime achievement awards, and Prof. Peter May won an award for mentoring graduate students.  In short, UW’s political science department cleaned up, winning more awards by far than any other political science department in the U.S. this year.  Such recognition reflects the fact that our department produces outstanding and innovative research that has a broad impact beyond the UW.   Many other faculty members have more recently published books and articles that will undoubtedly be competitive in next year’s awards.

The quality of our faculty and graduate student instructors also helps us to fulfill our central mission of teaching our undergraduates.  We are lucky this year to be welcoming two new faculty members, Jeffrey Arnold and Megan Francis, who are profiled in a linked article.  They are both innovative scholars studying fascinating topics, and will undoubtedly help to bring new energy to our program.

The most exciting new development in the department this year is the launch of the Center for Environmental Politics, led by Professor Aseem Prakash.  As explained in a separate article, this innovative center immediately establishes our department as a leader in the study of environmental politics, and strengthens our ties to other units on campus by providing a forum for interdisciplinary learning and communication.  This initiative would not have been possible without the generosity of a number of our alumni and friends. Dr. Gary Duck and Susan Duck provided funding for the Center’s colloquium series and Dr. Richard B. Wesley provided funding that made the Center possible, including support for a major conference on environmental politics this spring.  Gary Duck earned his PhD in our department in 1973 while Susan was earning a degree in Social Work.  The Ducks have also funded a new undergraduate fellowship for political science students. Dr. Wesley is a longtime friend and supporter of our department who has endowed several graduate fellowships and provided additional intellectual and financial contributions to our programs.  Such support from alumni and friends is crucial for developing the initiatives that build our national reputation for research excellence, initiatives that provide valuable research opportunities for our undergraduates and networking for our graduate students. 

My new role as chair gives me more opportunities to interact with our alumni.  Reaching out to our alumni helps me to see the long-term impact of our undergraduate program and gives me new ideas about how to improve our efforts to prepare our students for life after UW.   

I thank all our alumni and friends who remain in contact and keep us informed of their own accomplishments.  Please send us updates using the link on the newsletter page. 

I am honored to serve as chair of the department, and hope to build on our legacy and oversee many more positive developments in the years ahead.  Our department news page provides frequent updates about the activity of our faculty and students, including links to many op-eds written by our faculty and coverage of faculty research in national news.

 In closing, let me thank my predecessor as Chair, Professor Peter May, who provided outstanding service and deserves much credit for the accomplishments reported in the newsletter.

George Lovell is Professor and Chair of Political Science and the Harry Bridges Endowed Chair in Labor Studies.  He has taught at UW since 2001.

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