Five new professors ? some of “the rising stars of our discipline,” according to Department Chair Gerald Gamm ? joined the UR Political Science Department in its largest expansion in recent years.
Assistant Professors Kevin Clarke, Bonnie Meguid and David Primo have already arrived at the university, while Mark Kayser and Gretchen Helmke are pursuing post-doctoral programs ? Kayser at Oxford University and Helmke at Harvard University.
Primo, who teaches Positive Political Theory and Business and Politics, comes from graduate studies at Stanford University. He holds a masters’ degree in economics in addition to a political science doctorate and much of his work comes from tying these two fields together.
Primo said he was excited to come to UR because he holds it in high regard. “I think few students realize the important role that UR played in reshaping the entire field of political science in the last half of the 20th century,” he said.
Clarke spent time at UR last year, and starts his first full year with a doctoral degree from the University of Michigan. Clarke has focused on international relations, but his true specialty is in econometrics ? statistical analysis used in politics and in economics.
Introduction to International Relations and Introduction to Statistical Methods are the classes Clarke teaches. He also teaches a graduate course. “I can teach at a level that I couldn’t at most other departments,” he said of his graduate students.
Meguid’s specialty is in the field of comparative politics, and she received her graduate degrees from Harvard University. Much of her work has centered on the political parties of Europe, and she has been leading an undergraduate seminar in this topic.
All three of the professors already teaching are enjoying both their experiences and UR as a whole. “The students generally have been bright, motivated and not shy about participating in class,” Meguid said of her undergraduate class.
Two professors are not on campus at this time. Kayser is serving as a Postdoctoral Prize Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford. He is there continuing research projects in his specialty areas ? comparative politics and comparative political economy.
Helmke is spending time at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. The center brings together a broad range of students that have just completed doctoral degrees. Helmke’s focus has been on Latin American politics
Joining at the same time helps new professors, as they can work through similar experiences.
“I’m happy to be entering with a large class of young faculty who’ll be going through the same adjustments as me. They’ve told me over email that they are enjoying it,” Kayser said.
The large expansion was designed to strengthen the department. The new positions were suggested in the 1995 Renaissance Plan, and additional hiring has occurred in the intervening time.
Selection starts when the department receives permission from the university to advertise an opening, and from there a listing is placed in a national newsletter.
According to Gamm, the department receives an average of 50 applicants for each opening. From that point, the department carefully considers which ones to invite for further interview and eventually to ask to join the faculty.
The greatest benefit is that the new faculty allow the department to stay competitive, combining a young and energetic group of scholars with an older, very distinguished faculty.
“Our commitment is to hire the very best people in the country,” Gamm said.
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