The political science department recently hired four new professors in its most significant expansion in recent history.

The new hires, touted by Department Chair and Associate Professor Gerald Gamm as “probably the most talented group of new political scientists going to any department in the country,” have either completed or are in the process of completing their Ph.D.s.

The new professors are Mark Kayser (UCLA), Bonnie Meguid (Harvard), David Primo (Stanford), and Kevin Clarke (Michigan).

Clarke is already a visiting professor at UR. The others will be joining the faculty in the fall.

As recent graduates taking their first faculty positions, all will have the title of assistant professor, Dean of the Faculty Thomas LeBlanc said. They will teach both undergraduate and graduate courses.

“The department’s strategic plan calls for continuing our historic strengths in theory, while applying that theory to new areas, including international relations and comparative politics,” LeBlanc said. “We will be strengthening all of the existing subareas of the department.”

Primo applies formal theory and statistical methods to American political institutions and to business-government relations. He plans on undertaking a long-term study on the effects of campaign finance on public policy.

He aims to bring an enthusiastic approach to his undergraduate courses on game theory, which some consider a drier area of political science, promising “fun in-class experiments to demonstrate the principles in action.”

Kayser’s work in political economy and globalization makes him an asset to both the political science department and the Wallis Institute of International Political Economy.

He would like to teach an undergraduate course comparing 19th and 20th century globalization that would integrate politics, history and economics.

Meguid, whose dissertation focuses on European political parties, is excited at the prospect of teaming up with Kayser and well-known veteran Professor G. Bingham Powell to shore up the offerings in comparative politics. “It is a privilege to be able to work with them,” she said.

Clarke’s area of expertise is in the application of quantitative methods to international relations. He is currently teaching a graduate course entitled “Multivariate Statistical Methods.”

Gamm pointed out that hiring four new professors at once constitutes a major expansion for a smaller department such as UR’s, although LeBlanc noted that it does not yet bring the department up to its ideal number of faculty.

2000 saw the loss of several professors with the controversial termination of the Public Policy Analysis program, as well as the departure of esteemed international relations expert John Mueller.

“We will continue to hire faculty until we return to pre-2000 levels,” LeBlanc said. Gamm suggested that with the recruiting process for recent Ph.D.s complete for this year, the department will now explore hiring one or two established professors.

Gamm said, the department made offers to five graduating Ph.D.s. The only one who chose not to come to UR accepted an offer from University of California at San Diego.

“To go four out of five is extraordinary,” Gamm said.

All of the new hires had been recruited by other top-ranked departments from across the country. Kayser withdrew his candidacy with Princeton when offered the Rochester job. “The University of Rochester was on my short list of schools I wanted to take a job at, so when the offer came, I was thrilled,” Primo said.

Kayser cited the “collegial atmosphere and the intellectual quality of the other faculty” as factors influencing his decision to come to UR, while Primo cited the department’s reputation for innovation. “The University of Rochester’s political science department reshaped the field in the late 20th century,” he said.

“Departments that have a strong, productive, collegial faculty and a nationally prominent program have no trouble hiring outstanding faculty,” LeBlanc said. “The political science department has an outstanding reputation.”

Brach can be reached at jbrach@campustimes.org.



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