When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
I joined the faculty in 1968. It was my first job, which I began within weeks after defending my dissertation. I grew up in Georgia (Tucker) and therefore was delighted when offered a position as an assistant professor.
What are your favorite courses and why?
I teach four courses each year: Southern Politics, Legislative Politics, Introduction to American Politics and Comparative Legislative Politics. I enjoy each of these. If I had to pick one as a favorite, it would be Southern Politics because of the dramatic changes that have occurred with the development of a Republican Party and African-American political mobilization transforming the region’s politics.
What interests you about your field?
I get to spend my professional life trying to understand actions by political leaders and decisions by political institutions that affect all of our lives. The effort to make sense of these actions has the challenge of searching for patterns and/or predictors that can be tested in the context of previous events, but also in efforts to anticipate the future.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
Being named Richard B. Russell Professor of Political Science, winning the William Owens Research Award, being named a Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor, having my research funded by NSF, NIE, the Pew Charitable Trusts and the American Enterprise Institute.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?
Each class I teach at some point draws on my research. One of the clearest examples involves legislative redistricting, a topic that I have written about for 40 years and an area in which I have worked as a consultant to the attorneys general in 11 states and with private attorneys in a number of other states.
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
The goal differs depending on the class. When teaching POLS 1101 (Introduction to American Politics) I hope that students will leave with the knowledge that will help them be politically active for the remainder of their lives, since most will never take another political science class. I tell them that other than classes in their major, POLS 1101 has the potential to be the most important class they take because they will probably spend their lives subject to decisions made by American political authorities. In advanced classes, I hope to prepare students to become leaders in the political world. Many of our students go on to careers in law, as lobbyists, serving in elective office or working in the political arena. We are, quite simply, training the individuals who will be the next generation of leaders in Georgia and beyond.
Describe your ideal student.
The ideal student comes to class prepared to discuss the materials on the syllabus for that day and contributes to the discussion. The preparation involves reading and thinking about the assignments.
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…
…attending men’s and women’s basketball games and gymnastic meets.
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
…go to my cabin on Lake Burton and teach each summer in the GLOBIS Verona program
Community/civic involvement includes….
…membership in the Oconee County Rotary Club and speaking to dozens of civic, professional and political organizations every year
Original version of All the King’s Men
Proudest moment at UGA?
Witnessing the successes of former students.