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  • Sailors man the rails in the hangar bay aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman in 2016. On Jan. 1, 2019, the punishment of bread and water confinement for the lowest-ranking sailors will be banned.
    Sailors man the rails in the hangar bay aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman in 2016. On Jan. 1, 2019, the punishment of bread and water confinement for the lowest-ranking sailors will be banned.

    Dr. Don Inbody, a senior lecturer in the Department of Political Science and a retired captain in the U.S. Navy, spoke with Stars and Stripes regarding the Navy’s decision to do away with the punishment of bread and water confinement. “I did it once,” he told them, “It’s time for it to go, though.” Thought to be more ineffective than inhumane, Inbody viewed it as a practice leftover from a bygone era.

    Click here to read the full article.

  • Staff and Family gathered for the holiday party Dr. Varacalli and graduate students at the holiday party Kids decorating cookies at the holiday party

    On Sunday, December 9, the Department of Political Science held its annual holiday party at the LBJ Museum in San Marcos. The faculty, staff, instructional assistants, and their families attended and enjoyed quality time together and delicious food. The children enjoyed the cookie decorating table. All in all, it was a great way to kick-off the holiday season!

    Staff and family at the holiday party Staff and family gathering at the holiday party

    The Department of Political Science especially thanks the Hobby Center for their continued support of this annual event, the LBJ Museum for hosting, and all who worked very hard to make the party a success.

  • Dr. Dochen speaks with SWIPS SWIPS listening to Dr. Dochen

    On Tuesday, December 4th, Supporting Women in Political Science (SWIPS) hosted Dr. Carol Dochen. Dr. Dochen, a Texas State alumna who currently serves as director of the Student Learning Center (SLAC) and as the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) coordinating prelaw advisor at Texas State, spoke about the difficulties women must overcome in the course of their journeys as leaders. She also spoke about the importance of mentoring and gave tips on how to be assertive, but gracious enough to earn the respect of others while doing so.

  • Charmaine Wilde speaks to SWIPS


    Charmaine Wilde with SWIPS members


    Students and faculty attending SWIPS event


    On Tuesday, November 20th, Supporting Women in Political Science (SWIPS) hosted Charmaine Wilde, a local San Marcos attorney. Mrs. Wilde spoke with the members and faculty in attendance about defining a path to success. She went on to provide her tips for success in the professional world such as gaining experience in your chosen career field and then developing a work-style that will both lead you to success and incorporates your values. Mrs. Wilde graduated from Baylor School of Law in 2009 with her Juris Doctorate and went on to become an Assistant District Attorney for Hays County. She left the DA's office a little over two years ago and now practices at the Law Office of John McGlothlin with a focus in family and probate law. Mrs. Wilde serves as counsel at a local pro bono clinic and is active in the juvenile court system of Hays County.

    SWIPS meets bi-weekly on Tuesday nights at 7:00 p.m. and the last meeting of the Fall 2018 semester will be on December 4th. For more information, please contact

  • Chronicle graph showing midterm results along I-35

    Dr. Don Inbody, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Political Science, spoke with the Houston Chronicle for their piece entitled “Democrat Beto O’Rourke Exposed a Blue Spine Across the Middle of Red Texas”. O’Rourke and his fellow Democrats made a surprisingly strong showing this election, especially along the I-35 corridor where a number of Democrats managed to flip seats and other Republican favorites won by only narrow margins. To read more about what this means for the future of Texas politics and the 2020 elections, click here.

  • International Conference ad banner

    Two graduate students from the Department of Political Science presented their research at Texas State University's 10th Annual International Research Conference for Graduate Students on November 13-14, 2018.

    Fanny Mazna


    • Master of Arts in Political Science student Fanny Mazna presented her research on “Blasphemy Laws: A Violation of Human Rights in Pakistan.”

    Immanuel Tan

    • Master of Public Administration student Immanuel Zhen Miin Tan presented his research on “Mandatory Foreign Language Education among American Students: A Review of the Literature” which argued that requiring students to learn a foreign language would help both the economy and American foreign policy in the future.


    Immanuel felt honored to present his research saying he “was able to learn extensively from graduate students across Texas about their research findings from each respective field of expertise…I highly encourage all graduate students to participate in this conference next year, whether as a presenter or attendee.” Fanny agreed with his assessment saying “one of the best parts of the conference was that people belonging to other majors and different universities gave their feedback which in turn helped me to explore different aspects of my own research and ways to improve it.”

  • Poster of the pursuit of Happiness film


    Students attending the film event


    On Wednesday, November 14th, 170 students and faculty attended the fall installment of the Department of Political Science’s Film Series. The event took place in the Alkek teaching Theater and showcased The Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith. The film told the story of a down and out salesman who lifted himself from poverty and homelessness to become a successful stockbroker, while caring for his young son. In the course of the film, Smith repeatedly invoked the Declaration of Independence. A number of students remained afterwards to discuss the film with Prof. Rick Henderson who coordinates the series. The Political Science Film Series is part of the department’s Discourse in Democracy programming.

  • SWIPS meets with Dr. Crossett

    On Tuesday, November 13th, Supporting Women in Political Science (SWIPS) hosted Dr. Lynn Crossett, director of the department’s master's program in Legal Studies. Dr. Crossett spoke to the members about the program’s admission requirements and course offerings, as well as about how the program can help them further their career goals. He also answered numerous questions from the attendees about the department and program. SWIPS meets every Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. For more information, please contact

  • Dr. Walter Wright


    Dr. Kenneth Grasso


    Drs. Walter Wright and Kenneth Grasso from the Department of Political Science have been honored as “Favorite Professors” by the Texas State Chapter of the Alpha Chi National Honor Society this fall. Founded in 1922, Alpha Chi is a coeducational academic honor society whose purpose is to promote academic excellence and exemplary character among college and university students. With over 300 chapters nationwide, membership is limited to the top 10% of juniors, seniors, and graduate students.

  • James Earp, Assistant City Manager of the City of Kyle
    James Earp, Assistant City Manager of the City of Kyle


    Carlos Lamkin, President of the ICMA MPA Student Chapter
    Carlos Lamkin, President of the ICMA MPA Student Chapter


    On November 7, 2018 the Texas State’s  International City/County Management Association (ICMA) Student Chapter held its first meeting of the 2018-2019 Academic Year. About 25 MPA students and 3 members of the MPA faculty (Drs. Howard Balanoff, Emily Hanks, and Marc Wallace) attended the meeting which was conducted at the City of San Marcos Activity Center from 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

    A social hour and dinner for the participants was followed by a presentation by James Earp, Assistant City Manager of the City of Kyle and the ICMA Student Chapter’s Mentor from the Profession, on the city management profession. His talk was followed by a presentation by Carlos Lamkin, President of the ICMA MPA Student Chapter, which provided MPA students with information about ICMA and the services that the Association provides to local government managers and professionals. He also provided the students with detailed instructions on how to register as members of the Association so that they can receive ICMA educational and training materials.

  • MPA student Morgan Moore setting up for the party


    Student at the Watch Party


    Students at the Watch Party


    On Tuesday November 6th, 2018, the Department of Political Science hosted more than 400 undergraduate and graduate students for the department’s traditional Mid-Term Election Night Watch Party.  The event took place from 6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. in the Undergraduate Academic Center (UAC) 105, 110 and the lobby outside of Starbucks. The event included live cable broadcasting of the election results, free food, and raffle prize giveaways every half hour. A political forecasting game provided an interactive way for students to predict changes to Congress, in House and Senate representation, and in the Texas Senate and Texas voter turnout. KTSW, the official radio station of Texas State University, broadcast from the event.

    Students signing in to the Watch Party


    Students being interviewed by KTSW


    Students Rooting for their candidates


    Students running in to the watch party


    KTSW, the university radio station


    Students avidly watching the results coming in


    Political Science undergraduate student Sabra Woodward commented “It was great to be able watch an exciting moment for our nation and society with other students and professors who hold common interests. Getting to discuss current political happenings and theories in a fun environment was awesome. The food and drinks provided were appreciated as we watched the results roll in. All in all it was a well-organized event that I think everyone enjoyed!”

    Students gathered, watching the election results


    Student with American flags in her hair


    Students avidly watching the results


    Students at the election night watch party


    Standing room only at the watch party


    Student brings his puppy to the Election Night Watch Party


    Political Science undergraduate student Evan Ochesky shared “I thought the event was great.  It was like a great super bowl party for all the political junkies. The atmosphere was casual and fun, and it was nice seeing the faculty outside of class.”

    Faculty draw raffle winners


    Students watch the results come in


    Faculty and Graduate Students watch the results roll in


  • Students at ESMOAS General Council


    ESMOAS' Moot Court


    Texas State students excelled at this year’s Eugene Scassa Mock Organization of American States (ESMOAS) competition! Representing the nations of Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Belize the 23 member Texas State delegation won numerous awards. Highlighting these awards, Ethan Strickland won Outstanding Ambassador (1st Place Overall for an individual award).

    The complete list of the awards and honors our received by Texas State students is as follows:

    • Christian Sears
      • Selected as Parliamentarian for the 22nd Annual ESMOAS
    • Brandon Milligan
      • Selected as Chair, Executive Secretariat for Integral Development for the 22nd Annual ESMOAS
    • Trevor Graves
      • Selected as Chair, Executive Secretariat for Integral Development for the 23rd Annual ESMOAS
    • Michael Williams
      • Selected to the Student Advisory Committee
    • John Espinosa
      • Distinguished Resolution (2nd Place in Committee), General Committee
    • Ethan Strickland
      • Outstanding Crisis Speech (1st Place in Committee), General Committee
    • Ethan Strickland
      • Outstanding Ambassador (1st Place Overall)


    The members of Texas state’s delegation were as follows:

    Eunice Arcos
    Steven Aubuchon
    Denate Dowdell
    John Espinosa
    Desiree Franks
    Trevor Graves
    Janeth Hernandez
    Kaylie Hildago

    Ralph Kelly
    Lucy Lynch
    Ryen Maulsby
    Trey McCausey
    Fernando Mendoza
    Brandon Milligan
    Jesse Ortega
    Laurel Parkhurst

    Haley Schmidt
    Christian Sears
    Lucy Stanley
    Zoe Steiner
    Ethan Strickland
    Catherine Wicker
    Michael Williams



    Students at the Gala at the close of the competition

  • Students stratigizing at ESMOAS


    Students voting at ESMOAS


    Students discussing a crisis topic at ESMOAS


    From November 1st – 3rd, the Department of Political Science hosted the 22nd Annual Eugene Scassa Mock Organization of American States (ESMOAS) Summit of the Americas competition and conference. The event brought some 225 students and faculty members to campus from across the southwestern United States and northern Mexico for a competition simulating meetings of the Organization of American States, an academic conference on Inter-American Relations, and a model Inter-American Court of Human Rights competition. A dozen schools participated including Baylor, St. Mary’s, University of Louisiana-Lafayette, and The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).      

    Paula Bertol


    Bertol with Faculty


    The keynote address was delivered by Paula Bertol, Argentina’s ambassador to the Organization of American States on Saturday evening November 3rd. The keynote address was preceded by welcoming remarks from Dr, Mary Brennan, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

    Professor Ben Arnold, Kamela Syed, an instructional assistant in the department, and Lindsey Bentley, an alumna of ESMOAS and the department coordinated the Texas State end of the conference. “We would like to thank the Department of Political Science, and the College of Liberal Arts for their generous support of our MOAS and MUN programs. Without this support, our students would not be able to experience this amazing event” Prof. Arnold said.

    Students discuss a crisis


    Elections at ESMOAS


    Students discussing strategy


    Senior Laurie Parkhurst observed that "the value of the ESMOAS is in the experience of learning how to navigate the rules of parliamentary procedure. It is one thing to read about or to watch a debate, but through the act of participating you end up with a more intimate knowledge of diplomacy." Trevor Graves, a junior, noted the importance of teamwork at ESMOAS: “Every step that was taken by my group in this class required my whole team to work together as a group towards a better understanding of the country that we represented. To succeed, you need to learn how to work with others.” He also pointed out his that his role as President of Costa Rica at the competition allowed him to hone his as “a mediator and negotiator."  

  • Dr. Eduardo Schmidt Passos Faculty and Grad Students gather for Inklings

    On Tuesday, October 30, the department hosted the second Inklings gathering of the semester. Dr. Eduardo Schmidt Passos, gave a talk on “Brazilian Presidential Election 2018: Is Brazilian Democracy under Threat?” The talk was followed by a discussion with the faculty and graduate students.

    The department’s “Inklings” gatherings take their name from a small group of intellectuals (whose ranks included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis) who met weekly at Oxford University in the early and middle decades of the 20th century to read aloud and discuss their works in progress.

  • Doug Miller

    On October 26th, former New Braunfels mayor and state representative Doug Miller visited Dr. Bill DeSoto’s State & Local Government class and one of Mr. Ezekiel Loseke’s sections of Principles of American Government.

    Representative Miller’s remarks focused upon his experiences as an elected official in Texas and the importance of building relationships, securing consensus, and negotiating compromises in the pursuit of the state's good. He described his friendship with Speaker Joe Straus and even called Texas State University Chancellor Brian McCall during one of the classes to give the opportunity to say hello to him. He also reflected on the idea of civic duty, the importance of engagement with the local community, his days as a student at Texas State, and the importance of perseverance.

    Representative Miller was on campus to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from President Trauth.

  • Dr. Mihalkanin

    LBJ Museum Debate Event

    The department co-sponsored the Lyndon Baines Johnson Museum of San Marcos’ 2018 Fall Lecture on Wednesday, October 24, 2018. This year the lecture took the form of a debate conducted by the Lyndon Baines Johnson Debate Society directed by Professor Wayne Kraemer. The two debate teams followed a parliamentary debate format and addressed the question of whether the Texas Voter Identification laws helped representative democracy. The debate was preceded by a welcoming reception and followed by questions from the audience. Over 40 members of the university and San Marcos community attended.

    Other co-sponsors included the Department of Communication, the Honors College, Democracy for Texas, Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos, Calaboose African American History Museum, Mochas and Javas, Steger’s Chiffonade, Christopher Paul Cardoza, The College Democrats, and Hays County Democrats.


    The department hosted the Fall 2018 meeting of the Texas Network for the Study of Public Policy Issues (TNSPI). TNSPI brings together students and faculty from around the state twice each year to explore a specific public policy issue. The fall meeting focused on “Religious Liberty: Past, Present & Future” and brought together students and faculty from a variety of institutions from around the state including UT-Austin, Texas A & M, Baylor University, Houston Baptist University, University of Dallas, St Thomas University, Texas Tech and Southern Methodist University. Texas State students attending included M.A. student Ezekiel Loseke and undergraduates Sabra Woodward, Robert De La Garza, Evan Olszewski, Samuel Barr, Ronald Clark and Evan Dominguez.



  • Dr. Popescu Faculty and Students at Inklings

    On Tuesday, October 16, the department hosted the first Inklings gathering of the semester. Dr. Ionut Popescu, gave a talk on “The Rise of Offensive Realism in American Grand Strategy.” The talk was followed by a discussion with the faculty and graduate students.

    The department’s “Inklings” gatherings take their name from a small group of intellectuals (whose ranks included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis) who met weekly at Oxford University in the early and middle decades of the 20th century to read aloud and discuss their works in progress.

  • Purple Hays Dr. Don Inbody

    Dr. Don Inbody, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Political Science, spoke with reporter Robin Blackburn of the San Marcos Daily Record for her piece entitled “Purple Hays: A look at changing voting patterns.” Although state and county voter registration has hit record levels this year, Inbody did not think that those numbers will necessarily show up in voter turnout explaining that “there is no evidence that higher registration translates into higher turnout in general.… That’s what the science tells us; that’s what the data tells us from years of looking at this.” Although Texas is generally considered a red state, Inbody noted that Hays “is a pretty purple county.” Though Republicans usually win, especially in larger races, their margin of victory has tended to decline in recent years. He also noted that while straight-ticket tends to help Republican candidates in Hays County, “the more local you get with elections, the more pragmatic” voters tend to be. “When it comes to local elections,,” he concluded, “the issues are things like the pothole in front of my house hasn’t been fixed in a year and a half.”

    To read more about the “Purple Hays”, click here.

  • Dr. Thomas Patterson

    On October 8th, 2018 Dr. Thomas E. Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press at the Harvard Kennedy School visited the department to discuss the state of our political system, free speech, and the media. He spoke to Dr. Varacalli’s  constitutional law class about “disinformation on social media” and its impact on our political discourse. Dr. Patterson also met with a group of faculty and political science majors over lunch to discuss the stage of the discipline. 

    Dr. Patterson is author of the books Informing the News: The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism and The Vanishing Voter. His earlier work, The Unseeing Eye, was named by the American Association for Public Opinion Research as one of the 50 most influential books on public opinion in the past half century.

  • Panel discussions



    Panel discussions

    On October 5th & 6th, undergraduate students from across the country met at the University of Dallas to participate in The Good Life: An Undergraduate Conference in the Liberal Arts. Two Texas State students were selected to attend and present their research. Sabra Woodward, a junior, participated in a panel on “Order and the Spiritual,” presenting  a paper entitled “A Bright Light in a Dark Age: King Alfred the Great’s Translation and Preface of ‘Pastoral Care’ by Gregory I”.  Sabra noted that “our presentations went smoothly and we enjoyed learning from the 19 other presenters from around the country.”  Woodward and  Olszewski were the only students from a public college or university whose papers were accepted by the conference. Other schools represented included St. John’s College, Santa Fe, Baylor University, and Kenyon College. Evan Olszewski, also a junior, participated in a panel of “Law and Tradition,” delivering a paper on “The Role of Reputation in Authority in Ibsen’s The Pillars of Society.” “I was very surprised at just how professional and well-researched all the presentations were, and the engagement from the other students was amazing,” Evan observed. “There was a lot of personal interest in our papers, which was really encouraging.” The conference concluded with a keynote address entitled “Pietas” given by Dr. Susan Hanssen, Chair of the History Department, University of Dallas.

  • Dr. Frohnen speaking with student Dr. Frohnen speaking to students and faculty

    On October 4th, Dr. Bruce Frohnen, Professor of Law at Ohio Northern University, visited campus to explore the past, present and future of the American constitutional system. Over 150 students and faculty members attended his lecture on "Constitutional Morality and the Rise of Quasi-Law," which explored how the increasing role played by the bureaucracy has transformed the American polity. “I really  learned a lot from Dr. Frohnen’s lecture,” observed Ezekiel Loseke, a graduate student in political science. “It really brought home to me how much the American constitutional system has changed over the years.”  Dr. Frohnen also conducted two seminars for students and faculty. One seminar examined the future of the American constitutional system; the other addressed competing understanding of the role of constitutions in political life. Political science majors joined Dr. Frohnen for both lunch and dinner on the day of his visit.

    Dr. Bruce P. Frohnen holds the Ella and Ernest Fisher Chair at Ohio Northern University. His books include Constitutional Morality and the Rise of Quasi-Law (co-authored with George W. Carey), The New Communitarians and the Crisis of Modern Liberalism, and Rethinking Rights: Historical, Political and Philosophical Perspectives.

  • Dr. Daron Shaw Shaw speaks with students and faculty

    Dr. Daron Shaw (University of Texas at Austin) visited Texas State University on Tuesday, October 2, to discuss the Mid-Term elections coming up in November. He  conducted a seminar for faculty and majors exploring how scholars and political parties aggregate date to learn how the electorate may vote. Later that afternoon, he spoke to a group of over 150 students and faculty about the upcoming mid-term election, particularly about whether which party would capture control of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. He also discussed polling and how they work and whether to trust them.

    Shaw speaks to students Shaw speaks to students

    Dr. Shaw is a member of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the National Election Studies Board of Overseers, and the editorial board for American Politics Research. He serves on the national decision team for Fox News and on the Advisory Board of the Annette Strauss Institute. He has worked as a survey research analyst in several political campaigns as well as a strategist in the 2000 and 2004 presidential election campaigns. His books include The Race to 270 and Unconventional Wisdom: Facts and Myths about American Voters (co-author).

  • Innovation Day Dr. Menchaca-Bagnulo speaking with students

    Several faculty members from Political Science participated in the College of Liberal Arts’ Innovation Day on September 24th. Dr. Walter Wright participated in the "Across Borders and Nations" segment of Innovation Day exploring his work training mediators from San Luis Potosí and Monterrey and a cross-border mediation program between dispute resolution centers in Texas and the Mexican State of Tamaulipas that he helped establish. Dr. Ashleen Menchaca-Bagnulo shared her work relating the philosophical sources of the American founding to Native American and African experiences and origins. Dr. Thomas Doyle spoke about nuclear proliferation and increasing international tensions. Dr. Thomas Longoria spoke about his experiences participating in the City of Georgetown’s Bloomberg Challenge Project Team. The Bloomberg Challenge is a competition designed to encourage innovation in the public sector. His research concerned whether the citizens of Georgetown were comfortable with the creation of a virtual powerplant that would be made by taking solar panels from the city’s West Texas power supply and installing them on the roofs of private homes along with installation of batteries next to selected homes.

    Dr. Wright Dr. Longoria speaking with students
  • Students and Faculty Listening to Whittington Whittington Lecture for Constitution Day

    On Thursday, September 20th, more than 300 Texas State students and faculty, along with Dr. Mary Brennan, the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and Dr. Gene Bourgeois, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, attended the department’s annual “Constitution Day” Lecture. Delivered by Dr. Keith Whittington of Princeton University, the lecture explored “Why We Should Value Campus Free Speech.” The lecture was followed by questions and discussion and, afterwards, students huddled around Dr. Whittington to extend the conversation for an additional half hour. Prior to the lecture, a group of political science majors spoke with Dr. Whittington over dinner at Palmer’s Restaurant.

    Students Speak with Whittington after lecture

    On Friday the 21st, Dr. Whittington conducted a seminar on “Why Universities Must Defend Free Speech”, attended by more than two dozen Texas State students and faculty. The seminar was followed by a lunch affording another group of majors the opportunity to talk one-on-one with Dr. Whittington. 

    Robert Wilson, a graduate student in political science, praised the “deeply probing” nature of Whittington’s remarks, observing that he brought “academic depth” to a subject of intense debate on today’s campuses, a topic that is freely debated through the type of “popular talking points” found on the internet. Michelle Dean, a senior, noted that Whittington provided a much-needed reminder of the importance of campuses protecting “controversial” speech, “not just speech we agree with.”

    Whittington Speaking at seminar

    The lecture and events were sponsored by the Department of Political Science’s Discourse in Democracy project and co-sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and Jack C. Miller Center for Teaching America’s Founding Principles and History.

    Dr. Whittington is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University. His books include Speak Freely: Why Universities Must Defend Free Speech, as well as Constitutional Construction: Divided Powers and Constitutional Meaning, and Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy: The Presidency, the Supreme Court, and Constitutional Leadership in U.S. History.

  • Schmidt Passos Talking to Students Students at Meet the Professors

    On Wednesday, September 12, more than 100 political science and public administration students attended the department’s annual “Meet the Professors” event sponsored by Discourse in Democracy. The event gives students an opportunity to meet faculty members, to hear about their backgrounds and specialization, and to learn about the courses they teach. It also gave students a chance to hear about upcoming departmental events and the various student groups that work with the department. The formal presentations were followed by a social gathering that gave students a chance to talk informally with faculty over pizza. Attendees received a free tee shirt courtesy of Discourse in Democracy.

    Balanoff with Student Students eating pizza Professor with student

    Mayra de Luna, a junior, observed that the event brought home to her how “many truly amazing professors and mentors” the department has. Likewise, Evan Olszewski, a junior, noted that one of his “favorite things about the department” is the high level of “interaction between the students and faculty.” He said that he always looks forward to Meet the Professors “because it brings everyone together outside the office or classroom and you get to see the professors as approachable people, happy to share their ideas and work. Also, meeting the department’s newer faculty is always fun, because you can see how they fit in with and relate to the rest of the faculty.”  

    Mora with Student Grasso with Student Wallace with Students
  • On Wednesday, September 5th, Supporting Women In Political Science (SWIPS) hosted an event giving its members the chance to meet some of the female members of the department’s faculty. The twenty students who attended had the opportunity to meet Drs.  Vicki Brittain, Hyun Yun, Emily Hanks, Cecilia Castillo, Jennifer Lamm and Ashleen Menchaca-Bagnulo who addressed their questions about women in the discipline of political science and in our department in particular. The students in attendance received free departmental tee-shirts. 

    Faculty speak to SWIPS SWIPS students speak with faculty Faculty speaks with SWIPS


  • The 2018 CENTEX Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) held its annual banquet recognizing outstanding achievements and service by public administration students, faculty and alumni from Texas State University, the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs and the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.

    Texas State’s own Dr. Tom Longoria received the award for 2018 Distinguished Public Administration Educator.

    Howard Balanoff, Dr. Tom Longoria & Elaine Zavala


    Additionally, a number of Texas State students received awards and scholarships at the event.

    • Two MPA students received the James M. McGew Research Award from the Centex Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA): Reginald Brooks received the award for his Applied Research Project, “An Exploratory  “An Exploratory Framework to Assess Urban Wildfire Mitigation Policy in Austin Parks.” Deron Reinders received it for his Applied Research Project, “an Ideal Model for Transitional Programs for autistic Students.”
    • Tajudeen Basiru and Miah Wagner were awarded Balanoff Family scholarships.
    • Joseph Resendez, Yvette Mendoza, and Megan Moore were awarded Frank Rich Family Scholarships
    • Meghan Wallace and Ayodamola Olanipekun were awarded William P. Hobby Family Scholarships
    • Jabarri Falls, Troy Gilbeaux, and Jenna Rubert were awarded William P. Hobby intern Fellows
    • Tajudeen Basiru and Brekia Jackson were awarded Balanoff Intern Fellowships

    Texas State 2018/2019 Scholarship Recipients with Howard Balanoff (far right) & Elaine Zavala (far left)


    In addition, the following public administration students were inducted into Pi Alpha Alpha, the Global Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration:

    Krystal Muller             
    Shifa Lateef                           
    Ashley Wayman        
    Carol Lynn Campa    
    Tajudeen Basiru         
    Christina Lee Barbour           
    Dylan Russell

    Texas State Pi Alpha Alpha Inductees with Commissioner Travillion & Howard Balanoff


    Travis County Commissioner Precinct 1, Jeff Travillion was inducted into Pi Alpha Alpha as an Honorary Member.

    Howard Balanoff & Jeff Travillion (Pi Alpha Alpha Honorary Inductee) with Elaine Zavala, Centex ASPA President

  • Pi Sigma Alpha Honorees


    New Member


    Pi Sigma Alpha’s Rho Eta Chapter hosted their annual spring induction ceremony on April 29, 2018. The event was coordinated by outgoing President Dora Jackson and outgoing Vice President Madalyn Folgate. The induction ceremony featured a talk by Deborah Tucker, President of the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence and an adjunct faculty member at Texas State.  Ten new members were inducted into the society: Ebonie Smith, Morgan Morrow, Mason McKie, Rex Wyatt, Mayra de Luna, John Cavazos, Roman Gros, Amaireny Rodriguez, Justin Villa, Tara Watson. Five members -- Ebonie Smith, Morgan Morrow, John Cavazos, Amaireny Rodriguez, Madalyn Folgate, Doraneesha Jackson -- received their graduation honors cords. Mayra de Luna will serve as the chapter’s president during the 2018-2019 Academic Year, and Rex Wyatt will serve as vice-president.

    President, Vice-President, and Professor Debbie Tucker


    Incoming President and Vice-President with faculty


    Pi Sigma Alpha is the only national honor society for college students of political science and government in the United States, and currently has more than 700 chapters across the country. The Texas State Chapter, Rho Eta, was established in 1988 and over the last thirty years has hosted a variety of lectures and conducted various community-service projects.

  • Dr. Brad Watson

    On Thursday, April 26th, Dr. Bradley Watson, Professor of Politics at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, visited Texas State University as part of the Department of Political Science’s Discourse in Democracy program. His afternoon lecture entitled “Living Constitutionalism and the Decline of the Rule of Law” addressed recent trends in constitutional interpretation. In addition to the lecture, he led a seminar for twenty students and faculty members, and joined students and faculty for lunch and dinner.

    Dr. Watson speaking to students and faculty


  • Dean Mary Brennan presided at the annual College of Liberal Arts Awards Ceremony in the LBJ Ballroom on Monday evening, April 23. Our department’s majors were well represented among the awardees. The following is a list of our students who were recognized at the ceremony:

    Political Science Students Receiving Certificates

    Academic Excellence Certificate Awardees

    Gloria Andrus
    Casey Clark
    Maci East
    John Espinosa
    Cassie Estes
    Keely Freund
    Ana Gonzalez
    Annette Hernandez
    Kaylie Hidalgo
    Lauralee Holbrook
    Jean Lambeth
    Amy Lane
    Jadelyn Lopez
    Madeline Machlab
    Bridget Martinez
    Juan Martinez
    Coffey McCurdy
    Brandon Milligan
    Haley Naiser
    Dustin Nichols
    Aaron Plumlee
    Sarah Pressler
    Lucas Rowland
    Dylan Russell
    Alia Sanchez
    Brenda Sarabia
    Abigail Trahan
    Jordan Villarreal
    Tara Watson
    Claire Whisler

    Outstanding students in Political Science

    Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award in Political Science
    Kaylie Hidalgo

    Outstanding Graduate Student Award in Political Science
    Isabella Key

    Richard B. Henderson Award – Awarded for academic excellence and character in the tradition of Distinguished Professor Emeritus Henderson
    Cory Pohlmeyer

    Howard M. “Prof” Greene Award – Academic excellence in honor of a political mentor to Lyndon B. Johnson and other Texas State alumni
    Annette Hernandez
    Amy Lane
    Coffey McCurdy
    Cory Pohlmeyer
    Sarah Pressler
    Abigail Trahan

    Political Science Scholarship Recipients

    Barney and Linda Knight Scholarship – Awarded to students majoring in political science or business who have persevered in the face of adversity, overcome financial challenges, and demonstrated academic success
    Otto Bieker
    Brittny Sepulveda
    Darbin Wofford

    Dan Farlow Scholarship – Honors a longtime political science faculty member and Piper Professor
    Bianca Beronio
    Alexander Molina

    John and Charlotte Sharp Scholarship – For outstanding majors who have completed 45 hours
    Bianca Beronio
    Alexander Molina
    Brittny Sepulveda
    Darbin Wofford


  • Speaker at Alpha Chi Ceremony


    Students and faculty at the Alpha Chi Ceremony


    Seven faculty members from the Department of Political Science -- Ben Arnold, Bill DeSoto, Rudy Hernandez, Arny Leder, Tom Longoria, Tom Varacalli, and Walter Wright – were named “Favorite Professors” by the Texas State Chapter of the Alpha Chi National Honor Society at its annual induction ceremony. Founded in 1922, Alpha Chi is a coeducational academic honor society whose purpose is to promote academic excellence and exemplary character among college and university students and to honor those who achieve such distinction. With over 300 chapters nationwide, membership is limited to the top 10% of juniors, seniors, and graduate students. This year’s induction ceremony was held on Friday, April 20th in Alkek Teaching Theater.

    Ben Arnold


    Bill DeSoto


    Rudy Hernandez


    Arny Leder


    Tom Longoria


    Tom Varacalli


    Walter Wright



  • Students Discussing and Competing

    As part of the Department of Political Science's Model United Nations program, six Texas State undergraduates travelled to Charlotte, North Carolina April 11th – 14th to participate in the Southern Regional Model United Nations.  The SRMUN competition consisted of 500 competitors, representing 70 institutions, including Clemson University, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Central Florida.  Participating students were able to debate a host of pertinent global issues, ranging from the access to clean water to global debt issues.

    Student Delgation

    Representing the Republic of Panama, the Texas State delegation consisted of Brian Delgado, Deante Dowdell, Kaylie Hidalgo, Natalie Hernandez, Haley Schmidt, and Bradley Taylor. They were joined in Charlotte, by Professor Ben Arnold who coordinates the department’s Model United Nations and Model Organization of American States programs.

  • Students with Professor Bagnulo attending conference

    On April 7, a group of Texas State Students attended the Texas Network for the Study of Public Issues seminar on freedom of speech at the University of Texas at Austin. Students Samuel Barr, Ana De Loza, Adam Henley, Ezekiel Loeseke, Jordan Mandujano, Evan Olszewski, Evan Spake, and Sabra Woodward attended. Dr. Ashleen Menchaca-Bagnulo was the faculty sponsor. In the morning session, the students heard a keynote speech by Dr. James Stoner of Louisiana State University on Free Speech and the Natural Law. In the afternoon session, students heard a panel discussion featuring diverse opinions on freedom of speech from panelists Jeffrey Abramson (UT Law), James Sullivan (former Solicitor General of Texas) and Naomi Reed (UT's Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis) . The students also participated in small group discussions about speech laws and hate speech with students from surrounding universities. Texas State student Ezekiel Loseke described the seminar as a “great experience” that “really broadened his intellectual horizons.” He was especially impressed by opportunities for discussion among the students and between the students and speakers, as well as by the depth of the discussion and “diversity” of views represented.


  • Dr. Elvin Holt of the English department, and Drs. Rodolfo Hernandez and Ed Mihalkanin from Political Science


    Dr. Elvin Holt of the English department, and Drs. Rodolfo Hernandez and Ed Mihalkanin from Political Science


    On Thursday, April 5th, the LBJ Museum of San Marcos and the Department of Political Science hosted a panel discussion on the relationship between President Lyndon Johnson and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. Elvin Holt of the English department, and Drs. Rodolfo Hernandez and Ed Mihalkanin from Political Science, discussed how the collaboration between LBJ and MLK helped create the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as well the importance of these landmark pieces of legislation today.



  • Panelists at Roundtable Discussion

    On Wednesday March 28th, the Department of Political Science hosted a roundtable discussion on voter engagement in Texas entitled, “Your Republic-Public Policy and Voter Engagement in the State of Texas.” This event was organized by undergraduate political science major Preston Nieves and supported by the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life.  Panelists included State Representative Jason Isaac (District 45), former Judge Linda Rodriguez, Diann McCabe from the League of Women Voters, Michelle Sotolongo from the Honors College, and from the Department of Political Science, Dr. Rodolfo Hernandez and Dr. Michael Faber.  Topics discussed included voter registration, gerrymandering, and civic engagement.

  • Professors and Graduate Students in Inklings

    On Tuesday, March 27, the department hosted the second Inklings gathering of the semester. Dr. Patricia Shields, gave a talk on “How Jane Addams' Ideas of Peace became Part of US Army War College (Parameters) Scholarship.” The talk was followed by a discussion with the faculty and graduate students.

    The department’s “Inklings” gatherings take their name from a small group of intellectuals (whose ranks included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis) who met weekly at Oxford University in the early and middle decades of the 20th century to read aloud and discuss their works in progress.

  • TX Legislative Conference

    Public Administration major Katelyn Moriarty attended several panels at the 52nd Annual Texas Legislative Conference Friday, March 23rd. The conference is a nonpartisan organization of Texas business and political leaders who meet annually in New Braunfels, TX to focus on public policy issues. Panelists included State Representatives Donna Howard and Todd Hunter, City of Rockport Mayor Charles “C.J.” Wax, James Barragan of the Dallas Morning News, U.S. Congressman Kevin Brady, and many others. Discussions focused on the impact Hurricane Harvey has had on Texas, the federal tax reform and what it means for Texas, as well as the media’s take on the recent Texas primary results.

  • Film Poster

    Over 200 students attended the department’s spring installment of the Political Science Film Series in the Alkek Teaching Theater auditorium on Wednesday March 21st.  The event showcased the 2009 Academy Award nominated documentary, “The Most Dangerous Man in America:  Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.”  The documentary examined Daniel Ellsberg’s role in collecting information on the progress of the Vietnam War, the smuggling of secret documents from the Rand Corporation and the long protracted federal trials that not only put him in peril, but became a symbol for freedom of the press in America.

  • First Inklings gathering of the semester.

    On Tuesday, March 6, the Department of Political Science hosted the first Inklings gathering of the semester. Dr. Jennifer Lamm, gave a talk on “Puerto Ricans and U.S. Citizenship in 1917: Imperatives of Security.” The talk was followed by a discussion with the faculty and graduate students in attendance.

    The department’s “Inklings” gatherings take their name from a small group of intellectuals (whose ranks included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis) who met weekly at Oxford University in the early and middle decades of the 20th century to read aloud and discuss their works in progress.

  • Lone Star Conference


    Lone Star Conference


    On March 2nd and 3rd, the Texas State University Department of Political Science hosted the annual Lone Star Conference for the Study of Political Thought. Papers were presented by faculty and graduate students and faculty from universities across the state including the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M at College Station, the University of North Texas and the University of Houston. Topics ranged from the thought of Alexis de Tocqueville and John Locke to the right to keep and bear arms, animal rights and equality in civil society. Several Texas State faculty members presented at this conference and both graduate and undergraduate students in political science from Texas State University attended.

  • Texas State University repeated its successful representation at the Student Conference on National Affairs (SCONA) at Texas A&M University last month. The student delegation comprised John Flores, Christine Gian, and IdaraObong E. Ben-Edet. For three days, they networked with political and military officials and students from other campuses. Participants join assigned groups to discuss and craft policy proposals to address today’s top global and national issues. Under the guidance of seasoned experts and policy makers, students have free reign to craft their proposals within a narrow timeframe. The process pushes students to think quickly and creatively. “I lost count of how many cups of coffee I drank in order to figure how to write a policy proposal,” Gian observed. A panel of experts then evaluates the proposals.

    SCONA group

    Gian’s group researched refugee crises in Europe, a topic that drew on her personal experiences: “I didn't realize my personal stories growing up with refugees, and my dad being a refugee helped the framework of the policy proposal.” Flores and his group placed second runner-up for best policy proposal. It tackled the North Korean Nuclear Threat after adopting his framework. “It was a great experience,” Flores noted, “I learned so much.” Ben-Edet’s group covered intelligence sharing among governments and won the award for best policy proposal.


    Attendees heard from Dr. Joseph Han, who defected from North Korea in 1999. Flores remarked, “His journey from North Korean physicist to professor of nuclear physics at Texas A&M was compelling.” Other speakers included Mr. Kim Hyung-gil, Consul General of South Korea, Congressman Louie Gohmert, and General Frank Grass.

    Students at SCONA

    SCONA seeks to bring together a wide range of perspectives on issues of national importance. According to Gian, participants hear a common refrain from conference organizers: “The key to SCONA is diversity of thought.”


  • Russell Boyd II on Baylor Campus

    The department and the College of Liberal Arts sent BPA student Russell Boyd to the 41st Annual Big XII Conference on Black Student Government. The conference’s theme was “Sankofa: Our Past. Our Stories. Our Future.” Sankofa is a large part of Black culture and requires us to look back so we can move forward. Speakers included Tish Norman, Executive Director of Transforming Leaders Now, Eunique Jones Gibson, Founder of Because Of Them We Can, and State Representative Jewell Jones (D-Inkster). The conference afforded Boyd the chance to network and build friendships with Black leaders from college campuses across the country.  The conference, Boyd observed, was “an incredible and inspiring experience" that helped him "enhance his professional and leadership skills.” Boyd will be attending George Washington University in the fall to study political management and is interested in gaining professional experience working with a nonprofit.

    Big XII Conference on Black Student Government


    Lunch Keynote Address


  • Dr. Tanya Golash-Boza

    On Thursday, March 1st, Discourse in Democracy hosted a talk by Dr. Tonya Golash-Boza of the University of California-Merced. More than 70 students attended her lecture on “Mass Deportation and Incarceration” which explores the role of corporate profits, economic recession, politicization of race and gender, and fears of terrorism in facilitating the recent trend of mass deportation. The talk was sponsored by the Department of Political Science’s Discourse in Democracy Project, the University Lectures Committee, and the Center for Diversity and Gender Studies.

  • SWIPS co-president Ana S. De Loza, Justice Melissa Goodwin, and SWIPS co-president Brianah Rodriguez
    SWIPS co-president Ana S. De Loza, Justice Melissa Goodwin, and SWIPS co-president Brianah Rodriguez

    Supporting Women in Political Science (SWIPS) continued its Spring 2018 speaker series by hosting Justice Melissa Goodwin of the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals. Justice Goodwin spoke to the group at on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 about her educational background and professional training before becoming a Texas District Court Judge and Justice of the Peace for Travis County. She currently serves on the Texas Third Court of Appeals. The talk was followed meeting was a lively Q & A in which Justice Goodwin answered student questions ranging from law school, practice as an attorney, becoming an elected official, the legacy of sex-based discrimination in the workplace, to juggling work and family obligations.

  • Competitors at NASPAA Competition

    The Texas State MPA Program sent three students -- Shifa Lateef, Nicole Foy and Krystal Muller -- to the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration’s annual Batten competition which draws the best MPA/MPP students from across the nation. The preliminary round was held on the 24th of February at Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ and competition brought together 563 student participants who worked in teams of 3-5 taking on different roles to solve a public policy problem.

    The topic for 2018 was Pandemic Crisis Management and Global Health Security. As indicated on, “NASPAA believes it is imperative that MPA/MPP students’ knowledge on ‘global health security’ is furthered so they are prepared to act during a public health crisis.” There were several iterations of the simulation and each time our students had to think on their feet to come up with actionable solutions to the scenarios assigned to them. Shifa, Nicole and Krystal agreed that the conference helped them understand the real world implications of simulation based learning.

    Students Shifa, Nicole, and Krystal

    Although they didn’t advance to the final round, Shifa, Nicole, and Krystal enjoyed the competition and benefitted from networking with their peers from other NASPAA accredited institutions and gain a first-hand understanding of the merits of simulation-based learning in public affairs education. They were able to exercise their leadership skills, oral presentation competencies and policy memo writing abilities as they progressed through the day at the competition. The MPA program is grateful to the College of Liberal Arts, the department and the Hobby Center for providing the requisite funding for this trip. The program hopes to send a bigger contingent of students to this competition in the coming years.

  • Dr. Stephen L. Wasby


    Dr. Wasby speaks to students


    On February 22nd and 23rd, Discourse in Democracy hosted Dr. Stephen L. Wasby (SUNY-Albany). More than 100 students attended Dr. Wasby’s lecture on “The Presidency and the Law” which focused on the period from Johnson Administration to the present.  He also conducted seminars for undergraduate and graduate students on “Group-based Litigation" and "The U. S. Courts of Appeals," and ran a workshop with Dr. Pat Shields on publishing in academic journals. 

  • Pi Sigma Alpha Emblem

    Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honors society, had its first meeting of the semester on Wednesday, February 21. The meeting focused on three business items: First, Pi Sigma Alpha is teaming up with The Princeton Review to offer discounted prices on LSAT courses. Second, our chapter received a $900 grant from its headquarters to host a gala in April. Third, the chapter announced the dates of its next meetings: March 21 and April 18, both at 5PM in UAC 428.

    If you are interested in joining Pi Sigma Alpha or would like more information, please contact Dr. Varacalli at

  • Students at the Harvard National Model UN

    The Political Science Department's Model United Nations (MUN) program sent students to participate in the Harvard National Model United Nations (HNMUN) in Boston from February 14th – 18th.  The HNMUN competition featured 2,700 student competitors from 280 institutions (including Columbia, Brown, Yale, and the United States Military Academy at West Point) and 67 different countries.  Participating students were able to debate a host of pertinent global issues, ranging from the rights of linguistic minorities to global access to financial services.

    The Texas State delegation consisted of  Darian Bear, Connor Clegg, Brian Delgado, Sheldon Galipp, John Garcia, Julia Huerta, Kayli Lord, Brandon Milligan, Lucy Stanley, Jewel Tapp, Ashton Thomas, Claire Whisler, and Catherine Wicker. Our students represented the Oriental Republic of Uruguay. We can be proud of all the students that participated, as they represented Texas State in an exemplary manner. This prestigious competition was a challenging learning experience for the students, and we’re proud of the outstanding job that they did.    

  • Alumni discuss their post-graduation experiences.
    Alumni discuss their post-graduation experiences.

    The department’s annual Alumni Night was held on Thursday, January 25th. This year three graduates shared their post-graduation experiences with our majors. Jude Prather (BA POSI ’08) is the Veteran Services Officer for Hays County; Vanessa Cortez Tanner (BPA ’14) is a consultant for Berry Communications, a political consulting firm based in Austin; and Holly Doyle (BA POSI ‘17) is a Community Outreach Specialist at Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. The discussion focused on finding work after graduation and was followed by a Q&A session with the students. The night was wrapped up with a reception where students had the opportunity to eat pizza and engage directly with Jude, Vanessa, and Holly.